Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was imprisoned in Russia for writing about social injustices. He was sitting on a bench in prison when a stranger drew a cross in the dirt in front of him with a stick. That served as a catalyst for the liberation of his soul. He realized he could be free in prison. After being released from prison he migrated to the States, but was so disillusioned by how we took our political freedom for granted that he returned to Russia. Having experienced the Russian revolution and the oppressive rule of communism he wrote a book entitled August 1914. He told the story of two Russian students who were flushed with revolutionary idealism and patriotic fervor. They engaged in conversation with a wise man who attempted to explain that changing the world by rational intellect was a false hope.
The wise man said, “Who would be so presumptuous as to claim he has the ability to invent ideal conditions? . . . Presumption is the mark of limited intellectual development. A person whose intellectual development is limited is presumptuous; one whose intellect is highly developed is humble.” After much debate the young men asked: “But isn’t justice a sufficient principle on which to found social order?” The wise man answered, “By all means! But not on our own justice as we imagine it for ourselves in some comfortable earthly paradise. Rather, that justice that is before us, that exists without us and for its own sake. And we must conform to it.”
Solzhenistzen never used the word God, but He was describing true worship. We don’t invent justice, we conform to a just God. That alone is the only guarantee of freedom for all people. What we are witnessing in Ferguson, Missouri is invented justice. Michael Brown, an African American, was tragically shot by a Caucasian police officer in a predominantly African American community. From a human perspective I can understand why there was an immediate rush to judgment fueled by past racial injustices. The Attorney General (considered the “top cop” in America), an African American, went to Ferguson and visited the family of Michael Brown. Suppose the policeman was African American and he was assaulted by a 300 pound Caucasian whom he allegedly shot in self-defense. Which family would he visit?
We all have our prejudices. Wherever Christianity has flourished there has been an elevation of social justice, but we will never have perfect justice in this world. That is why there is a final judgment, and in the end justice will be served. I pray that the people of Ferguson will not invent justice, but will humble themselves and conform to the only One who is just. That is their only hope for freedom and peace.
For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog