I am nearly devoid of words this week. My in-laws came to visit over the weekend and one of the first electrified morsels out of my children’s mouths was news of the Capitol riot. “Hey! Hey! Did you know there was a riot at the capitol?” Yes, I told them about it. And I thought I handled it pretty well. But for it to be the first thing they say to visiting grandparents, well, it speaks volumes. What I intended to be minimal in their little minds has become grand. For this, I worry. Will my children think the rioters’ actions are somehow noble, even defensible? After all, it is the only action they have seen in the past 10 months of COVID-19 boredom.
I admit, for my family it is quite the muddled territory. A group (MAGA) my family formerly associated with went beyond acceptable bounds to protest what they perceived as an injustice — Electoral College votes. Where do we draw the line when faced with an injustice? How far do we chase it? To what end? Let me say this. Whether or not an injustice was done in the 2020 elections, I do not think the rioters handled it well by storming the Capitol. Violence is never the answer.
What is injustice?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes injustice as that which is unfair, biased or wrong. A simple definition is not enough to arm children with the knowledge required to successfully handle an injustice. We must model it in our own lives. Stop for a moment and think of a time when you felt an injustice was done to you or your child. How did it make you feel? Did you act in accordance with God’s Word? What we must remember is our children are watching us. Little eyes pry. Little minds crave to be saturated with life as it happens. This secondhand experience will be the foundation of our children’s belief system. Be cautious with your words and actions. We must teach our children to recognize an injustice and proceed with love. Not anger. Not violence. Speaking out against injustice sometimes involves defending the defenseless.
Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. —Proverbs 31:8 (NIV)
Parents can model Biblical reactions to injustice in our world, whether it is violence against people because of their skin color or someone cutting you off in traffic. Injustice is injustice. Let us set the mark.
Turn the other cheek
In the New Testament, Jesus tells his disciples to “turn the other cheek” — an admonition frequently given to children and adults alike when faced with the injustice of being assaulted. He says the following:
Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone takes your cloak, do not withhold your tunic as well. —Luke 6:28-29 (NIV)
Here, Jesus is teaching his followers to refrain from taking revenge on those who have wronged them, without becoming bitter. Katy Callahan, a writer at Blog.Bible, says, “This is a tremendous act of love—to defend the defenseless, to stand firmly in justice, without retaliating in violence or harboring resentment.”
Refrain from wrongdoing
Let us defer to one of the greatest civil rights leaders and defenders of justice known in our time, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Christian who relied on Biblical principles to guide him. We are called to decry injustice. But we must do it while still showing love. Dr. King reflected on this conundrum.
In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. —The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A powerful example to follow
No better words can be found on this topic than those of Dr. King. His life exemplifies an existence of justice and peace in the face of adversity. He defended those who could not defend themselves and he did it in accordance with God’s Word. Let Dr. King be an example of how to handle injustice in our lives and share his wisdom with your children.
Contact Cheyenne Belew at firstname.lastname@example.org.