Injustice, Justice: Are These Abstractions?

We have been meditating for weeks on a foundational question: What does it mean to be human?  To answer the question, we have put on the table the “10 C’s” of creation spirituality.

Wildfire smoke. Photo by Doc Searls on Flickr.

Currently, we are meditating on the “C” called Compassion including of course both its mystical or yin dimension; and its yang dimension of justice-making.

I am writing this at 8:10 AM in Vallejo, California on September 9, 2020 and it is pitch dark outside with a very faint red in the sky.  It seems like the sun is trying to rise but cannot.  It is strangely eerie and eerily strange.  What is going on?

Injustice is going on.  Eco-injustice.  We call it climate change (about which, for reasons only they can grasp, an entire political party, and its head in the white house, are in denial). 

Can one deny the warming of the planet, the great chunks of Greenland that are melting into the sea, the disappearing of glaciers in the Himalayas, at Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, in so many places around the globe where current and future generations of humans and other species depend on glaciers for their water supply and their agriculture?

Melting of the glacier on Pico Bolivar, Venezuela, between 1950 and 2011. Juxtaposition by
Wilfredor on Wikimedia Commons.

Droughts are not abstractions.  Nor are record heat waves; or record strength and numbers of hurricanes and the floods that result; nor the current wild fires near where I live that have been poisoning the air for weeks for millions of humans and other creatures in the West—and of course driving many from their homes and livelihoods; and that has currently, right now and right here where I sit, turned an 8:30 AM day into midnight sky.

Justice is NOT an Abstraction because Injustice is felt in the gut.  This is true of eco-injustice.

Charles Kinsey of Miami, FL, had his arms up and was on his back on the ground when police shot him. Posted to YouTube by CBC News.

But it is also true of racial injustice—when black men get killed at the hands of police even when they are not armed, that is not an abstraction. When people are denied access to buy homes because of the color of their skin, that is not an abstraction.

Social injustice is not an abstraction—when people cannot pay rent because of coronavirus and are tossed on the street into homelessness—that is not an abstraction; when people do not have health care, but do have bodies that need assistance, that is not an abstraction. 

“Protest Over Evictions Due To COVID-19 and Lockdown” Photo by Tim Dennell
on Flickr.

Economic injustice—when multi millionaires and billionaires get huge tax breaks while the poorest workers still have to fight to get $15 per hour, that is no abstraction; When the poor put their lives on the line providing food for front line workers in a pandemic and die at far great rates than white collar workers as a result—that is not an abstraction.

Gender injustice—when women are accosted with impunity, that is not an abstraction.

When Eckhart celebrates justice-making—as he is doing in our most recent DM’s–he is not talking abstractions.  He is talking reality when he says those who work for justice “tickle God through and through.”

See Matthew Fox, Passion For Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, “Path Four: The New Creation: Compassion and Social Justice,” pp. 415-545.

Also see Matthew Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice.

Banner Image: Protest for human rights and living wages, 2016. Photo by Annette Bernhardt on Flickr.

Do you see justice and injustice as abstractions?  What makes both real for you?

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4 thoughts on “Injustice, Justice: Are These Abstractions?”

  1. Avatar

    No, injustice is NOT an abstraction- just reading and watching today’s posting of yours, Matthew, has me feeling that kick in the gut.

    What feels abstract to me still is my own complicity in all these injustices. But COVID and resulting racial/economic/climate impacts are certainly bringing it all home- into my body. I couldn’t allow these feelings in me if not for a strong spiritual practice and a growing sense of spiritual community around me in my life – as well as virtually, with all of you in the Order of Sacred Earth. Thank you.

  2. Avatar

    Eco-justice…in all my years in Sierra Club, had never heard the term.

    Thank you Matthew for impressing on me the urgency of it.
    Very concerned about you, your team and my children in the fires. Saying many prayers for all. May the sun soon shine again.

  3. Avatar

    All of these injustices are too often true. Unfortunately many people prefer to ignore them.
    Today is 9/11..a fateful date in U.S. and world history. Where was the justice, or justification, for all those deaths in 2001?

  4. Richard E Reich

    Thank you Susan for your vote for eco-justice and spiritual support of this site and the Order of the Sacred Earth. And I believe that even the Sierra Club should stand for eco-justice. And of course, on this day, Ron reminds us to remember the injustice of what happened to our country on 9/11 And finally I am grateful to Matthew for sharing with us the various forms of justice that we must be aware of and involved in. May God bless us to this end…

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