How broad is your sense of justice? Is it broad enough to take in a whole world?
On a planet with more than six billion people, that's a tall order. The globe is a vast patchwork of cultures, languages, religions, and social mores. And within those broad swirls of values and customs are countless finer variations, resulting from each individual's distinctive history, unique family background, and personal circumstances.
Despite all these differences, all of these individuals share a desire for justice - justice for themselves and justice for those they care about. But their ideas of what is just can be a million miles apart - sometimes even when they're neighbors.
Wars, rebellions, terrorist acts, civil uprisings, and countless other forms of violence erupt when people's views of just solutions clash. In the Middle East, for example, contradictory ideas about just solutions among Palestinians and Israelis are driving a bloody cycle of suicide bombings and military reprisals.
Around the world, each individual's requirements for justice, shaped by his or her own values and perspectives, may make sense on their own terms. But the result of imposing those requirements on others may, to them, be gross injustice.
I saw this paradox recently while reading an article in the Monitor. It was an interview with a Baghdad family - thoughtful, educated people, putting two sons through college and trying to maintain a sense of purpose, knowing that a massive US attack might destroy their home and their lives (Feb. 21).
Seeing them dangling near disaster, I had the thought that I might have been happier not reading this story - not seeing US policy from the receiving end. But I also thought about how often the Monitor had enabled me to see justice through other people's eyes - Israelis, Palestinians, generals, street vendors, Iraqis, Europeans, Americans, Russians, Chinese, clerics, farmers, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, and many, many more.
How comfortable it can be to stick with a narrow perspective - and how disorienting it often is to absorb another's point of view. It can be messy, too, because a broader view often reveals that the easiest solutions aren't good enough. To avoid these complications, many people wall themselves off from differing perspectives and stick close to people who share their views.
There are so many perspectives out there, and they can be so different from one's own. But what would God's perspective be?
The Bible says God made every individual in His own image (Gen. 1:27), and it says God is Love (I John 4:16). Having made every individual, divine Love could never side with one person or group's view at the expense of others. God's solutions would include all perspectives of justice in achieving outcomes fair to all and unfair to none - as all the colors of light, when combined, produce pure white.
When an individual opens the color of his or her own thought to see a conflict from an opposing perspective, this lets in light of a different color. This brings the individual a step closer to God. And it often causes him or her to see old solutions as unjust and inadequate, to gain new understanding, and to see new kinds of solutions that would accommodate both views of justice.
How to respond after glimpsing these differing views is a choice each individual makes. But those who open their thought to broader perspectives will see more clearly, and will be better equipped to take action in some form - prayer, advocacy, philanthropy, politics, or other appropriate means.
Of these responses, prayer offers the unique opportunity to rise above narrow human views of justice, to God's all-encompassing view. And accompanying the pure, universal light of His impartial love is His infinite power. As prayer brings this combination of all-enfolding divine Love and infinite divine power into focus, it becomes clear that solutions far beyond human will and wisdom are immediately at hand.
This realization brings peace of mind. And - in a way that only prayer can do - it can make a positive contribution to the sense of peace among all humanity. As we become conscious of the divine Father-Mother Love's ceaseless action in bestowing justice on all, we rise to the understanding that all things are, indeed, possible.