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Category: Essays
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This was written on the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd on April 20, 2021:

Justice is a Jedi value. Soon after the world first heard the words, “Jedi Knight” it was explained by Alec Guinness portraying Obi-Wan Kenobi that the Jedi were the defenders of peace and justice.

I have often meditated on those two things, peace, and justice, and why they are the first description we get of the values of the Jedi Knights.  Not only that but why those two things, and not other worthy concepts such as truth or compassion.  But what George Lucas wanted his archetype of a Jedi Knight to stand for, to defend was peace and justice. These two attributes are foundational to the Jedi Path.

After the murder of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020 there was little of either peace or justice to be had.  And it was in the light of the protests against police brutality that was demonstrated that the link between peace and justice was a strong one, for without justice, there can be no peace. It is this relationship between peace and justice that tells us which should be the priority.  Peace without justice is a false peace.  It is the peace of not discussing religion or politics until such point that both these topics have become so dividing and toxic because while many were busy not discussing these topics they grew in power and influence and are used to oppress.  Peace without justice is a miscarriage. I see in both the Jedi community and elsewhere the desire to skip over justice and go straight to peace.  This builds a tolerance for injustice, so that a small injustice is forgiven to “preserve the peace” but when we excuse injustice, we are injuring someone.  Telling them that in their case, justice is less important than this false peace.  That an injustice would be excused only opens the door for further injustices.  And soon, “preserving the peace” leaves a number of victims in its wake, because justice was lacking.

Today, 329 days after the murder of George Floyd on a Minneapolis street, Derek Chauvin was convicted for his murder in a Minneapolis courtroom.  Many are calling this justice. And within the current framework in the United States and the State of Minnesota, this is the kind of justice we can get at this time. But the murder of black and brown people by police continues seemingly unabated since the murder of George Floyd and the trial of Derek Chauvin. But the real injustice here is the impunity with which Police Officers often act as judge, jury, and executioner and the system that upholds that practice.

This is possibly a moment ready for great change, however, convicting a killer cop (and let’s not forget George Floyd was not the first person killed by Chauvin) nearly a year after the murder while many other cops have killed is the bare minimum for justice.  True justice, in this case, would be addressing the systemic way in which police officers take the lives of those they are meant to serve and protect.  Policing in the United States is broken, and perhaps even beyond reform. Justice demands that we tear down any system of oppression and replace it with a system based on compassion.

Was justice served today?  Perhaps. The system under which George Floyd and many others have died without any due process or even the modicum of justice received by George Floyd’s families and loved ones today in court persists. This can be a moment of great change, but we have to change it. This struggle is not over because Derek Chauvin is convicted of murder today (which will surely work its way through the appeals process) but the fight continues, and we must have a more equitable and just society if we are to have a peaceful one. We must change policy along with hearts and minds, and that will not happen on its own, what will you do to defend peace and justice?

 

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