Seeking the Face of Justice: Lessons from Two Former Child Soldiers

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By Stephanie Motz Skinner | Twitter: @stephmotz

When we see how much injustice there is in the world, sometimes we forget that a simple act of reaching out and caring can make all the difference.

I can’t say I fully understand justice. Living in Uganda, however, as I hear firsthand the stories of people who have experienced great injustice–people who are now healing–I’m often reminded of what achieving justice looks like. I also learn that in seeking justice I don’t need to become overwhelmed.

God reminds me there’s nothing silent or static about justice. Wherever I search for the word “justice” in the Bible, I come across action. Justice is life-giving, loud and active. He also provides me with many examples on how to seek justice: speak out, reach out and give.

Seeking Justice

I learn that to seek is the desire or attempt to achieve something. I may have the desire, but if I don’t take the leap from desire to action, I’ll never “achieve” justice. Justice isn’t just the feeling in my heart. It’s the ways in which I will choose to respond to that feeling.

I’m reminded that seeking justice is a choice I continually have to make, because seeking justice, though it’s not impossible, isn’t easy. It can be uncomfortable.

It’s not easy

-Personally, I’m not very good at speaking out. I’m shy.
-Being generous is hard when I feel like I don’t have the finances.
-Reaching out requires meeting people and investing my time.

I have to be honest, sometimes I can get lazy, overwhelmed and scared. I can fail to take the leap from desire to action because it means I have to get out of my comfort zone. Therefore, I have to continue to choose to keep my heart and eyes open so I don’t fail to see injustice and take the opportunities to respond.

Lessons from Filder and Susan

Filder and Susan belong to a generation of children who were abducted by the LRA in northern Uganda and forced to live under the captivity of rebel soldiers. Many of them were forced to witness and commit unimaginable atrocities. They were robbed of their childhood and innocence. Boys were forced to become child soldiers and girls were often given away as trophy wives to rebel commanders.

Like many other abducted children, when Filder and Susan returned from captivity, their community rejected them completely. Now they are part of an initiative run by Watoto that trains and disciples this stolen generation and helps them reintegrate into their communities. They have been given the opportunity to regain control of their lives because somebody acted.

We sat at their new home on Suubi Hill, and when I asked them what was the most important thing I as an individual could do to seek justice, their answers were surprisingly simple. They said that if I care, I will stop and listen to those who are hurting around me. To Susan and Filder, former child soldiers, realizing justice begins with an interaction.

“Just talking with someone who has been through something very painful can help him or her,” Susan said. “Don’t pass and go, find out how they are doing. Talk to them, take your time to sit with them.”

Filder added: “Encourage and be faithful to one another, help them, build them up.”

I know justice is not one-dimensional. Choosing to stop, care and listen might not solve all of the world’s problems. But if it reminds one person of her worth–if one person rises up from her circumstances and starts to believe in herself again–then that simple action might just be the beginning of someone’s experience of real justice. It’s easy to think that our simple, individual acts of goodness, kindness, or love are insignificant when we see how much injustice there is in the world, but it’s exactly those simple, individual acts that, when added together, can begin to make real positive difference.

I notice that difference when I see Filder and Susan. These girls have experienced war, loss and rejection, but when you meet them, you see love, joy and a real sense of appreciation shining through them. They are healing, smiling and dreaming. They want to shine that light and share that face of justice with other women in their community. And that’s the other thing I’ve learnt about this face of justice: it doesn’t stop at that one person. It sets off a ripple.

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What are YOUR thoughts?

  • What speaks to you in this post?
  • When and where do you see the face of justice?
  • How would you like to grow in this area?

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About Stephanie:
Stephanie is a humanitarian and portrait photographer for fakeleft.com where she shares stories of hope and dignity. She blogs at fakeleft.com/blog and tweets at @stephmotz

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