Whenever an unarmed human being is gunned down in the street by a policeman, why is it that half the country wants justice and half the country wants unity?
We see government officials search for coalescence. We find activists push for equity. I’m often vexed at the paradoxical divide. It begs a few questions:
1. Who are we supposed to unite with?
2. Why can we not have justice and unity at the same time?
3. Which is more important: Justice or Unity?
There is a clear divide when looking at policing in America. One side is fed up with police brutality and senseless killings of unarmed men and women. The other side that is sick of “big, bad dudes” and “lazy welfare bums” provoking police to kill them. Essentially, either you think the killer is the victim or the victor. Either you take the side of the bully, or the side of the bullied.
To say that you’re in between or everyone should just get along helps no one. To ask for just some peace, in turn, asks for the one being bullied to stop being bullied; it puts a share of the ownership of the problem on the one being beaten, battered, and murdered. Meanwhile, as you focus your energy on telling the oppressed that it’s somewhat their fault, the oppressor hides behind you and continues their rash actions.
If your peace cry is a barrier to the persecuted, but a battle fort to the tormentor, then your unity cry is idle.
If we want unity, it shouldn’t have to come at the sacrifice of justice. That’s why people without justice aren’t gung-ho about unity. It’s not that some harmony wouldn’t be nice, but it’s not a real goal if it doesn’t include due process. If everyone in the US was united with the common goal of equal and deserving justice, then maybe there would be more of that unity. If there is unity without that justice, then we’re just a union of slaves with no input on what goes on with our lives. The two ideas, though they may seem mutually exclusive, must coincide for them to coexist.
The third question I pose is where the schism in America reaches farthest. Here is where the priorities lay. Does solidarity come before? And vice versa. Is the only way to solve our problems through solidarity, or with equity?
Let’s try to use a "common sense" approach to this equation. If there is a problem rooted in injustice, then is it too much like right to search for justice to solve the problem? When we add unity into the other side of the equation, it just makes the problem that much harder to solve. Because frankly, unity should be an understood tool amongst those looking to solve the problem of injustice.
But, because of the constant division, the answer must be expounded upon even further. Unity cannot be forced within a democratic republic like within a dictatorship or totalitarian government. In this government, everyone is entitled to their own values and morals. However, this government cannot survive without the proper justice which is a tool that maintains order.
A government without a working system of justice is no government at all. It is a system of chaos, as paradoxical as it sounds. How can you find peace in the midst of chaos? The answer is either Batman and the Justice League, or more realistic justice. These days, they both seem like equally plausible options.