Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Indicting the System and Building the Beloved Community

Most in the peace and justice community took it as a foregone conclusion that Darren Wilson wouldn’t be indicted by the system of injustice that he was a part of.  We had hoped somehow for a miracle, that the system and the culture that reinforces it would indict itself.  What we need instead are civilian indictments of the system – many of them.  Communities all across the country need to hold a candle of justice up to our legal system and call it what it is: polarizing, fear-based, classist and racist.  Indictments from civil society – when presented and argued with civility and reason could have real moral authority.  And while the outcomes of these indictments and the civilian tribunals that could follow may not be enforceable under current law, they provide grounding for the establishment of just and moral local communities.

Local communities can design alternative systems for justice and nonviolently refuse to participate in the morally bankrupt systems that currently rule.   In moving to a peaceful future we need to experiment and establish these alternative models and inquire into the foundations of justice.  Restorative justice programs are already in operation across the country proving there are functional and effective alternatives to what currently is and showing what an ethically based system of justice can look like.  At the local community level this is a viable possibility we need to pursue.

Engaging in the design of alternatives may seem like sidestepping the necessary dialogue required to transform the mainstream system of justice.  This is hardly the case.  Yes – we need inclusive dialogue  – lots of it.  That is essential for the establishment of a just moral community for all.  However, our social, economic and political culture is so damaged that reason and civility rarely preside.  Dialogue requires that we listen: more specifically, it requires that we listen to understand one another.  Talking past one another, as we are doing now, only reinforces stereotypes and breeds opinion and misinformation.  We need to be able to listen and hear the voices of all those who have been victims of the indignity and inhumanity that is bred by our justice system and manifest in forms of police brutality, racial profiling, and the mass incarceration of the majority of young black men in America.

Telling our personal stories and engaging in “truth telling” can be an opening process, revealing the indignity of the system that transcends individual racial and class identities and helps to bind us together in our collective humanity.  Truth telling is a bridging process that opens up the possibilities for civil dialogue to occur. It allows us to connect emotionally and then move to reason. There is great work happening on the ground in Ferguson that seeks to do just this.  The Truth Telling Project is gathering video testimonies and reactions in response to the grand jury indictment decision.  This is part of a bigger project that will be launched soon that will gather voices of victims of systemic racism from across the country.  I encourage us all to listen to listen to these voices and add our own to the mix.

Injustice will continue to prevail if we don’t engage in alternative, just processes and dive deep into inquiry into our own attitudes, fears, and misperceptions.  Justice, in my experience, is about achieving wholeness – internally and in community.  It is about returning to whole that which has been broken.  Wholeness can’t be achieved without understanding, without listening, and without civility.  Wholeness is the manifestation of the vision of justice in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Beloved Community.”  Let’s aspire, prepare, and engage in the reflection, learning and action to achieve this vision.

Tony Jenkins is the Director of the Peace Education Initiative at The University of Toledo.  He is also a board member of the Peace and Justice Studies Association.

More articles by:
May 22, 2018
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
Brian Saady
How the “Cocaine Mitch” Saga Deflected the Spotlight on Corruption
David Swanson
Tim Kaine’s War Scam Hits a Speed Bump
Norah Vawter
Pipeline Outrage is a Human Issue, Not a Political Issue
Mel Gurtov
Who’s to Blame If the US-North Korea Summit Isn’t Held?
Patrick Bobilin
When Outrage is Capital
Jessicah Pierre
The Moral Revolution America Needs
Binoy Kampmark
Big Dead Place: Remembering Antarctica
John Carroll Md
What Does It Mean to be a Physician Advocate in Haiti?
George Ochenski
Saving Sage Grouse: Another Collaborative Failure
Sam Husseini
To the US Government, Israel is, Again, Totally Off The Hook
Brian Wakamo
Sick of Shady Banks? Get a Loan from the Post Office!
Colin Todhunter
Dangerous Liaison: Industrial Agriculture and the Reductionist Mindset
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail