I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday weekend. Gearing up for this week’s newsletter, I knew I wanted to share with you about the ancient Hebrew view on justice. In the process, I kept finding myself repeating the phrase I said every morning in school as a child – “liberty and justice for all.” So let’s talk about justice and the role it plays in our personal sense of liberty.
Many of us think of justice as something that applies to the judiciary systems – who is right, who is wrong, who should get charged, and who should go free. But for the ancient Hebrews, justice was much more than that. Justice started with your worldview.
For the Hebrews, the world was an abundant place (thanks to Rob Bell and the Robcast for sharing this idea). Their belief was that there was enough to go around. Thus, it wasn’t necessary to stockpile food or money.
Because the universe was abundant, and there was enough for everyone, justice meant sharing what you had, so that everyone had enough. In talking to a client this week about this view of justice, I also learned that in ancient Israel, it was common practice to sow seeds and care for your entire property, but to leave a specific portion of it unharvested – that section of your land grew food that was freely available to anyone who needed it.
Can you imagine a farm where people could come and pick zucchinis and apples if they were hungry? (I actually worked on a community farm in Durham that did this!). In order to maintain this practice, you have to believe that you have enough on your own land – you can get by even if you share the fruits (literally) of your labor.
That idea of justice leads to liberty. Let me ask you this…how much of your brain space gets devoted to getting ahead, having enough, or making sure you’re taken care of? When the default system is scarcity or lack, you have to devote energy to making sure your needs are met and that it stays that way.
If the default system is abundance, stress dissipates. You have access to what you need and can give away what you have in excess, trusting that if you are in need, someone else will help you out.
Most of us go through the day jumping from one attachment to another. Sometimes our attachment is to the things that we want more of. Sometimes our attachment is actually an aversion to what we want less of.
Liberty is when we aren’t tied to attachments and aversions, and instead respond to what is happening in the moment, knowing that justice will ultimately reign.
Are you rolling your eyes at this? Then let’s be clear: most of our world doesn’t see justice in this way. We are surrounded by scarcity mindsets and stockpiling of resources. It is not the case that we can assume that our neighbors or leaders will redistribute resources. Let’s be honest about the world we are in.
So then let’s take this idea to a more personal level. In your sphere of influence – with yourself, your family, and at work – are you practicing justice? Do you feel liberty?
How can you redistribute time, energy, love, food, or material resources? What would it be like if you stopped ruminating on what “should” be in honor of what is?
From justice comes liberty comes liberation comes peace.
It all starts with a decision: do you believe in abundance, and are you willing to create justice?
For me, this is a daily (sometimes hourly) decision. It’s not always easy. And I don’t always answer “yes”. But I do know that when I do say yes, I find more calm, more joy, and more connection. I think you might find the same.
Take a moment to reflect:
1. Do you believe that the universe is abundant? (Note, we’re talking about the universe…not a specific government, capitalistic system, or human-made entity).
2. When you are talking to yourself, are you reflecting abundance and justice?
3. In your closest relationships, do you approach them with abundance and justice?
4. In your work, are you showing up with abundance and justice?
We may not be able to change the world, but we can change ourselves. Get started. <3