A few weeks ago, while at church, I heard a new hymn “For Everyone Born”. It’s about creating a place at the table for everyone, but the part of the lyrics that I connected with have a different meaning for me. The chorus says, “we are creators of justice and joy.” I’ve heard a lot said about the fact that we create our own joy, and I believe it. In fact, I try to live it. But I have not heard much said about the fact that we create our own justice. In fact, this is usually frowned upon.
Justice, is typically left to the judges, the courts, the law. Anything else is typically called vigilantism or “taking the law into our own hands.” But that is because Justice is often thought of as punishing the perpetrator.
Justice is elusive for many survivors. Most abuse never gets reported. What does get reported can often not be prosecuted, or is not prosecuted. My abuser has never faced me in any kind of court. He was accused by another victim, but was not found guilty. Today, he enjoys all the freedom of any citizen, and I believe he still abuses on a regular basis. I tried reporting him twice, yet he was never “brought to justice.”
So, I had to make my own justice.
Which is why I write. Not to punish him, but to save us.
I realized at some point, that justice was as much about setting the world more right as it was about punishing the guilty. I realized that I had to set about creating my own justice. If I can let go of some of the pain, guilt and humiliation I have felt, justice is served. If I can reach one survivor and start or advance the healing process for him or her, justice is created. Some survivors are able to prosecute their abusers, and getting those bastards off the street makes the world a safer place. It is justice well served. But, even those who successfully prosecute their offenders still need more.
We are creators of justice…and joy.