October 31, 2008

no justice, no peace

I remember the first time I popped in Boysetsfire's After the Eulogy album to hear the chanting of a crowd screaming, "No justice, no peace!" Chilling! ... but I wouldn't recommend anything after that album... yuck! Anyways, I digress.

This week, for my class we are discussing just that: the relationship between justice and peace. In Just Peacemaking, the section on justice argues that just economic, humanitarian and democratic processes are necessary in order for peace to be obtainable. Stassen shared with us this nifty diagram that distinguishes active peacemaking from pacifism and just war theory. To add to the conversation we also heard from Dr. Lindy Scott who shared some thoughts from his book with Rene Padilla, Terrorism and the War in Iraq: A Christian Word from Latin America. Here's my thoughts on this subject as it relates to my home, sweet, home...

The relationship between justice and peace seems logical. It is difficult to conceive of those within socially and economically unjust situations not attempting to disrupt a system which oppresses them. And the more desperate the situation, the more desperate the responses may be. Therefore, it seems reasonable that fair representation, human rights, economic stability and personal freedoms be required steps if peace is the desired outcome.

In the San Diego/Tijuana region, there is a great economic disparity between those living in San Diego and those within Tijuana. Hispanic immigrants living in San Diego without documentation are often paid unfairly and neglected basic human rights. Still, they migrate because there are fewer options in Mexico.

Even though these injustices exist, Hispanic immigrants have not violently risen up against the authorities. But they do willfully disobey U.S. immigration laws. And this does commonly bring violence against the migrant; sometimes physically, sometimes in other ways. In order for peace to be achieved, economic justice will first have to be achieved.

While war clearly is not on the horizon in this situation, the border has been increasingly militarized. As the situation escalates in this manner, Stassen’s diagram is helpful. It provides those of us that live in this region another set of questions to ask those on both sides of the issue of migration. Rather than managing how we forcefully stop migration–such as spending more money on weapons and larger walls–we can ask how it can peacefully be accomplished through sustainable economic development throughout Latin America (but especially in Baja) and advancement of immigrant, human rights in both Latin America and the U.S. (but, again, especially in San Diego). Both of these practices–addressed in just peacemaking–could potentially decrease migration and the reactionary violence due to it.

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