Justice for Trayvon? Don’t give up on social justice, too

The loss of Trayvon Martin pushed the people of Sanford, Florida to the edge of despair. Family and friends have only begun to mourn while others, many with no connection to the boy, howl for immediate justice. But justice is a complex relationship of enforcement, fact-finding, and the interpretation of law. We need to exercise patience and fairness to gain the protection of that system. There is another form of justice–social justice–that can work in any nation. It can save our loved ones from unspeakable tragedies. Social justice flows freely from the tap to anyone who wants it. . . we just need to work on the plumbing.

“America isn’t easy,” said Andrew Shepherd in The American President. “This is advanced citizenship. You’ve got to want it bad.” The fictional chief executive spoke of an unvoiced requirement for all Americans:  if we want to keep the engine running, we have to make it better.

We’re talking about positive, incremental changes to every aspect of our society with the goal of ensuring the common good. Widespread progress is never credited to a single organization but to everyone who feels responsible for their world. This brand of justice starts with kindness, dignity, faith, and fairness. Anyone can use these tools. Guidance counselors, doctors, teachers, and friends use them every day. They are operated at the dinner table, in church, in a town meeting, and the classroom.

I recently learned that social justice is harder to function because it takes the longest to cement. Social justice asks for active effort from everyone. But when simple values are applied by a mass number of citizens to beat the simplest of problems, imagine what can be accomplished! These are the first steps to adding strength to a community, forming common sense and eradicating violence from the streets. That is how true justice can be found for Trayvon Martin. His life will be truly honored by our actions.

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