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The Sibling Sets of Seeking Justice

He has told you, O mortal, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?   (Micah 6.8)

My wife and I love watching movies at the Sherman Playhouse Theater in Hamilton, Ont. because it shows top-notch, independent, and small-budget films that you can’t see anywhere else. This spring the playhouse is making headlines because it postponed a scheduled Jewish film festival. They postponed it because they received threats from advocates for various Palestinian causes. City mayor, Andrea Horwath, intervened and arranged to have the festival moved to another location.

The death and destruction wreaked upon Gaza since the Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas is terribly upsetting. Attempting to seek justice for this tragedy by threatening violence at a Jewish film festival, challenges us to realize that seeking justice is always accompanied by a sibling set. 

The key question is, “Which sibling set?”

In the case of the protest against the Hamilton film festival, the siblings are anger, threats of violence, and wide-net stereotyping that considers all Jews targets for retaliation on the basis of the actions of a particular Israeli government. When seeking justice is partnered with these three siblings, a consistent family culture takes shape, which becomes the basis for responding to injustice. 

The Bible overflows with calls to seek justice, and these biblical calls also occur within a consistent sibling set, a consistent family culture. 

Micah 6.8 identifies two of the chief siblings of seeking justice: loving kindness and walking humbly with our God. The biblical justice lexicon is so rich that it would be very simple to identify twenty different siblings, beginning with the nine listed as the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5: 22-23). Others include humility, self-examination and repentance, compassion, honesty, mercy and seeking shalom. Each of these siblings is like a jigsaw puzzle piece, and when they are fit together, a portrait of Jesus Christ emerges, both as the risen Lord and as the head of his justice-seeking body of disciples. 

The anti-film festival sibling set ultimately harms justice seeking. It not only perpetuates violent power dynamics, but it actually strengthens these dark dynamics by entering into a vicious cycle of hardened, polarized confrontation. This set needs to be called out, because it is the most public and loudest form of seeking justice present in North America today. It undermines the much more powerful and radical form of justice-seeking that flows from Jesus and his followers. 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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