The last words of the American Pledge of Allegiance ring with the promise of goodness and greatness, “…with liberty and justice for all.” The potential is great for a people who take such lofty ideals to heart. The reality can be even greater when these ideals are truly representative of the dealings and lifestyles of a people in the normal course of life. However, when the rivers of justice have been diverted by corruption and the streams of righteousness tainted by evil doing, the words of the Pledge ring hollow and the potential promise seems unattainable.
Liberty and justice go hand in hand. Without liberty, justice cannot be served and without justice, liberty cannot be fully experienced. In the last few days, we as a nation have witnessed concurrent miscarriages of justice, so bold and brazen, that the reality of the injustice leaves us stunned and wondering what it means for the nation’s future. The decisions surrounding former Secretary of State Clinton communicate an unquestionable double standard for the “high and mighty.” The seeming unending deaths of African-American men at the hands of people in authority without the benefit of due process cause those of us who believe in the rule of law and who pray and work for peace to wonder how long a nation can endure under the weight of such disparities of justice.
Proverbs 20:10 says, “A double standard of weights and measures— both are disgusting to the Lord.” Disgust is the appropriate emotion for the manifestations of injustice and evil that are becoming more and more prevalent in the United States. Perhaps our Liberty Bell cracked at its initial ringing and cracked again after the attempt to repair it as a warning – Liberty cannot fully be experienced without justice. At our nation’s beginning, we sang of liberty while more than half of our inhabitants remained in chains. The songs of liberty remain muted by the cacophony of injustice we are seeing in our midst today.
If liberty has a price, injustice exacts a higher price still. Should we fail to “proclaim liberty” and renege to “let justice flow down like a river” we will encounter costs more severe than taxation by the British, and chains more oppressive than those that bound the slaves who built the infrastructure of this land over a century ago. The Liberty Bell remains cracked. I am now beginning to understand why.