Thursday, April 30

What is my justice hangup?

What is my deal when it comes to perceived injustice? It makes me crazy.

Silly example: the characters in Harry Potter who do evil things and never get justice: Snape, Fudge and Umbridge (off the top of my head). Even Rita Skeeter. I want them to die. Seriously.

Silly example 2: I've been playing some Civilization again lately. The Aztecs attacked me out of nowhere last night and I basically couldn't stop until I'd made them capitulate to me.

Serious example: I'm finally reading 'Band of Brothers'. (I realize I'm probably the last person in America who is interested in this book buy hadn't read it yet ;-)

The injustices that Easy Company faces make me insane. It's just so unfair! Beginning with Lt. Sobel, their imperious commander in training, they face so many unjust circumstances.

A major situation where this shows up is the Battle of the Bulge. Easy Company holds the line in terrible circumstances while officers in nearby Bastogne have a turkey dinner for Christmas. Easy literally has cold white beans to eat in freezing temperatures without even adequate winter clothing. Furthermore, when they do eventually move back they see how the system works: Millions of items are shipped 'over there', but by the time everyone takes his cut, there aren't even enough necessities left for the front line soldiers.

What is wrong with me? Nine year olds say 'That's not fair!' Isn't this something we're supposed to grow out of? I feel it viscerally and I want justice!

The starkest example is the German people. Easy gets to Germany and finds nice living conditions in rural towns. These civilians did not suffer the hardships of war like French, Belgian, Dutch and British civilians. The soldiers of Easy Company really like the German civilians. They're hard-working, clean, middle class and nice.

And they're the people who allowed Nazi fascism and the Holocaust and concentration camps. Every human heart contains wickedness to oppress or to allow it.

So, I was glad to read about a little justice. Easy came across their first concentration camp near Buchloe, part of the Dachau complex. And it wasn't even an extermination camp. It was a forced work camp. General Taylor was so angry that he declared martial law and forced every able-bodied German between 14 and 80 to go to the camp to bury bodies and clean it up.

I say all this as someone who is reasonably well-read about WW2 and the Holocaust, including 'Night', 'Mila 18' and having personally visited Auschwitz.

Lord have mercy. Kyrie eleison.

Of course, my soul searching isn't done. The obvious question is: where do we allow and even abet gross injustice in our society? Probably some injustice is inevitable. Jesus said 'You'll always have the poor with you.' At what point do we need to object, to refuse to be complicit?

I'm not looking for easy answers. I used to be pretty anti-big business. Now I see that multinational corporations have created a lot of wealth and helped to raise 3 billion people out of poverty around the world. I used to be pro-government, but now I see some of the problems inherent in government, not least of all massive waste of taxpayer dollars.

Who should we boycott? Who should we demonstrate against? Everyone who does business with Sudan? Israel? China? Russia? Coca-Cola? ExxonMobil? GM? Disney? Think globally. Act locally. But it ain't simple or easy.

It's probably like Tom says: Get your own foreign policy. Invest in an issue you care about. Adopt a child. Give microloans through Kiva. Fight global warming (not my cup of tea, but engaged by some than they remain inactive). De-consumerize a little (you know, try to do without some nonessential). Serve in your church. Create. Enjoy. Learn. Love your family and friends.

(A small request: some of these pursuits appear mutually exclusive. Let's not demonize one another, ok?)

I hope this isn't becoming too 'Everything I needed to know I learned in kindergarten'. I'm trying to be positive, but from a base of hard-nosed thinking (not just rosy do-goodism).

What do you think?
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