Act Justly, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8.
“The opposite of poverty is not wealth, the opposite of poverty is justice.” Bryan Stevenson in Just Mercy.
Guest Writer: Carole Kimmel
Although I have never met him, I can tell from his writing and his TED1 talk that Bryan Stevenson is a brave, strong, compassionate man who lives according to what the Lord requires of him (Micah 6:8). He was greatly influenced by his grandmother, a strong, good, compassionate African American woman who passed on her influence to all her grandchildren. She made a big impression on Bryan who became a wonderful writer and a lawyer who works on behalf of the poor and people of color who have been wrongly convicted or sentenced to life in prison as minors.
The fact that so many innocent people are on death row because of an inadequate defense, or that thousands are rotting in prison with no chance of parole, having been put there in their teens, may not be what you want to read or hear about. Bryan will make you sit up and listen because he himself was so outraged at how badly people in prison, especially the poor, black and other minorities, are treated. Basically, he found that if you are white and have money, you can buy your way out of such a fate, or at least have your sentence reduced to what amounts to a slap on the wrist.
Bryan has won a number of awards for his work and successfully argued a case in the Supreme Court in 2010 that minors under the age of 17 cannot not be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. He established the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI)2 in Mobile, Alabama, where so many are unjustly confined to prison. The “lynching museum” (The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration) and memorial (The National Memorial for Peace and Justice) built by EJI are stark reminders of how we have treated our fellow human beings. Unfortunately, what happened in the past continues to affect the way people treat each other today. I urge you to read the book or at least watch the TED talk and hear Bryan’s compassionate story about the people with whom he works. This is a legacy that we must acknowledge. We are called to see God in each other, no matter the differences in color, poverty, or life circumstance. What does the Lord require of you?