Compassion and mercy are downstream. Justice is upstream.

Posted on July 7, 2012


If you were saving people out of a river — abuse, abduction, trafficking, poverty, injustice — this necessary work is commendable, laudable, and heaven sent. We call this “compassion.” Sometimes we call it “mercy.”

Justice, however, is a far more difficult and challenging task. Justice has to hike through the jungle on the banks of that river and head upstream, all the while asking the question, “How are these people getting tossed in the river in the first place?”

Two reasons why this question is dangerous. The first is that there are dangerous people there living out the essence of evil. The second, and more profound, is that right next to those evil people we may have discovered our base camp, the place where we sleep and eat and venture. And the road that we have paved to privilege ourselves with this locale has also paved the way for those evil people. And they’re right behind our tent.

Posted in: justice