Headlines across the United States on June 18 blared the news of yet another shooting. The evening before, 21-year-old Dylann Roof walked into the historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, spoke with its pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, and participated in the weekly Bible study that had just begun. Towards the end of the session, Roof rose uttering racist remarks, pulled out a gun and began firing. He killed nine people, including Pinckney; three survived. The shooting has been called a hate crime, and Roof reportedly left a manifesto indicating he wanted to foment a race war.
The shooting is just another example of acts of injustice that haunt us every day. One would think that in the 21st century, amid cries for greater peace and harmony, and with a more educated populace, that incidents of injustice would be lessened and efforts to bring about a more just society would be more successful. Yet we continue to live with a seemingly endless parade of justice issues coming to the fore on a daily basis. We read of religious radicalism and fanaticism, poverty, starvation, human trafficking, global warfare, violence, sexual abuse, racial discrimination, internecine fighting — to name just a few. With all of our knowledge, wisdom, wealth, understanding of history, and our sophistication, why is it still so difficult to achieve a more just and loving world? What are we missing?
As Unificationists, we turn to Unification thought and theology to try to make sense of injustice and to answer the question of what it takes to live justly in the 21st century. However, Unification thought and theology are limited in terms of presenting a practical answer as to why it is so difficult to create a just world. At best, Unification thought and theology use only broad strokes to meet this challenge by presenting theories concerning ontology, original human nature, universal values, ethics, order and equality. Therefore, our challenge is to take these theoretical concepts and develop them to give a more effective practical understanding of how to address injustice.