The English word “justice” is a translation from the Hebrew word “mishpat” and it refers to the act of rightly deciding a case in the courts. Although Justice has been understood as a synonym for fairness, it is not just doing what is fair, but what is right. Justice is one of the greatest and foremost attributes of the character of God.
What is injustice? Injustice is the illegal act of depriving people of their rights. It is the inherent unfair practice of keeping people in a condition that leaves them at an economic and social disadvantage.
In Kenya today, injustice is subtle and easily disguised. The political and economic structures of Kenya favour the rich. The poor and middle class are at a huge disadvantage. Wealthy people and elites run and own the government. They control all of the economic, social, and political power. They ensure that the laws enacted always benefit them. Poor people do not have a chance.
Think for a moment about what is happening in this country. As we have become more affluent, we have become more religious and less attentive and interested in matters of justice. We dismiss the requirements for the practice of justice as just religious trivia.
An ox knows its owner and a jackass knows the one who feeds it, but the people of God don’t understand. It is dangerous for people to disconnect themselves from their history. When people disconnect themselves from their history, they disassociate themselves from everything that had been at the centre of who they were. When a government does not remember the purpose of her existence, the most just thing to do is to replace it. The way to Canaan cannot be cut short by anyone. Not even the Moses who brought us out of Egypt. God buried Moses in the wilderness.
During the days of Prophet Isaiah, when one looked out across Judah, all he could see and find were pockets of corruption, violence, murder, cheating, brokenness, pain, suffering, idolatry, unrighteousness, social and political injustice. There was widespread sin. The problems of this society had become generational. One generation produced a second and third generation of sinful, corrupt people. The period of peace under King Uzziah gave rise to a generation of self-indulgent, indifferent people.
I believe that to elect former or present KANU leaders and their offspring, or Banana supporters and their die-hards, is to provide avenues for the past to rule the future. Kenyans rejected KANU but kept its leaders. We rejected the Banana constitution group but kept its proponents. This generation should learn to forget familiar failures. There is very little integrity to harness from our past.
We are unjust to our children. Justice is not just us. Under the current leadership, what do you think your children’s children will become? What will the next generation look like? Justice demands that we do the right things now to prepare the next generation to be better than us. Each generation should produce a generation that rises higher than the previous generation.
One wonders why our people are still so far behind yet we have the opportunity to rise above the stench of poverty, addiction, and crime. There is a very active presence of economic and political exploitation of our people.
Justice is not just us.The problems of our fathers do not have to become ingrained in each new generation that comes along. Let’s give our children a chance to succeed. Let’s give them the tools necessary to get ahead.
The practice of religion is not a substitute for justice. Judah had plenty of religion, but no praxis. Judah had plenty of sacrifice, but no social justice and commitment to the least of those among them. Judah had plenty of offerings and giving, but nothing that God was pleased with.
Today the trend of many preachers is to give people a dynamic worship experience without any responsibility to live out the mandates of justice. These are leaders who don’t see Kenya. They just see their religion and congregation. We are not just called to feel good, but to do good. In addition to prayer, we should practice our faith in God. Praise is not a substitute for doing justice or challenging the status quo. It is not a substitute for doing what is right in the eyes of God and neither is it a substitute for taking up leadership of your country.
We cannot ignore God’s requirements to practice justice, love and mercy. If we love justice, we should be concerned about Kenya and its policy framework. We should be moved to question the allocation of taxes for the just course of our nation. God is a God of justice.
Every leader from Mutula Kilonzo (minister for justice) to our legislative council should be reminded that to limit justice to yourself, your clique, your party, your leaders and your generation, is to kill justice in the nation. Is it Justice or Just Us?
By Dr. Julius Mbagaya
National moderator of Baptist Churches in Kenya mailto:Kenyafirstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Comment on this article!