There can be no justice without love

MY NEW BOOK: I was still blushing over Aaron Johannes’ review of The Power of Disability when Markets Insider chose it as one of twelve books that human resource managers should get in 2020 if they want to build diverse  teams. Now I’m blushing and tickled. Speaking of reviews, I’m told by those who know about these things that a review on Amazon, Indigo or your favourite book buying site makes a huge difference. If you like the book please drop a line or two or three into a review. 

My wish for Valentine’s Day is that we pay more attention to those who are loving a better world into existence. And who remain open-hearted toward the broken-hearted and hard-hearted. Here is why I think they do it.

The attraction between mutual love and the common good is not new. They found each other the instant people began taking care of each other. There is no better inspiration for making the world more just and inclusive than having those we love in danger, vulnerable or suffering. We act. Not as an intellectual pursuit. Not as an institutional duty. Not as a contractual responsibility.  Not when it’s convenient or popular. But because it’s what we do in a caring relationship.

Reinhold Niebuhr, who wrote the Serenity Prayer long associated with Alcoholics Anonymous, described this reciprocity as “justice-love.” He’s not alone in believing that love enlightens justice. It’s a reminder that law makers and social justice advocates should pay more attention to caring relationships than to the letter of the law. When justice gets reduced to legal matters it takes up too much space and crowds out the affection, human warmth and friendship at the heart of civic life. 

Mia Mingus, writer, educator and community organizer advances the conversation by noting that disability justice is another term for love. She writes:

“…no matter how on-point our analysis is, if we can’t treat each other well, our work will not get far.”

“… the systems we are up against will require collective work—if we could have changed them on our own, we would have already done it—and collective work requires that we are in relationship with each other in some way shape or form.”

And finally:

“What good is it if we can wage amazing campaigns, if we all end up hating each other in the end?”

Justice has broad and ancient roots. Love makes it transcendent. One way to respond to divisive times is to close the gap between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. That, like all those other kinds of love, is something we don’t have to do alone.

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