Friday, September 19, 2008

Justice in the Modern Age

Two stories have come up on NPR this week that have stayed with me. The first was about contaminated baby formula in China. Officials knew for 6 weeks before recalling the affected brands, and - understandably - many of China's parents are enraged and distraught as they struggle to find something safe to feed their babies and determine what damage, if any, their children may have suffered. (At the time of the story, it was estimated 6,000 children have been affected.)

The second about
Maher Arar, a Canadian/Syrian citizen, who was deported by the U.S. while on a layover in JFK airport. He was sent to Syria as an enemy combatant for suspected connections to al Queda, and while there was physically and psychologically tortured. He has been found innocent in Canada and is now seeking a trial in the U.S. No due process and no protection from being sent someplace where torture was somewhat imminent.

Such injustices are sometimes so difficult to comprehend. I don't know about you, but there are certain assumptions I make about what is sacred... what is important. I assume no one would be so callous and greedy as to put profits ahead of human lives. I assume my country would never knowingly commit acts of torture, nor take actions that would knowingly lead to the torture or unjust treatment of another human being.

It makes me think about the process of dehumanization and how it is so often easy to recongize on a large scale, but so hard sometimes to identify in small subtle moments of our own lives. Every moment in which compassion is replaced with hatred or anger may hold the potential for de-personalizing the other human beings around us.

Perhaps it's as simple as someone cutting me off on the highway, or seeing a woman mistreating her child in a grocery store, or vilifying politicans who have made poor choices. If we are able to act and respond with compassion in the many aspects of our own lives, does such a response ripple outward into the larger world? Can remembering the humanity in all those around us prevent inhuman acts in the future?

If prayer affects change or provides respite, may those affected by these injustices (and others) find peace in some form.


plaidshoes said...

These stories have really stuck with me, too. You have such a wonderful way of putting into words the things I am pondering!

Genevra said...

Thank you! That's incredibly nice to hear, and I am so glad the blog provides something useful for you. That is my greatest hope!