The Roman jurist Ulpian ostensibly offered the first definition of justice in the West. Justice, he wrote, is the perpetual will to render to each person his due. But for the Christian, the natural virtue of justice alone does not suffice. The Gospel requires more. In order to live well, the Christian must love one’s neighbor. Sadly, George Floyd was denied both justice and love when Derek Chauvin horrifically cemented his knee to Floyd’s neck, causing asphyxiation and, ultimately, death.
Such terror desecrated the inherent worth and dignity of George Floyd, degrading him to an object for another person’s perversion. In the eyes of God, Floyd and Chauvin are both sons of Adam, equal and deserving of the same rights. But Chauvin ignored his natural bond with George Floyd when he falsely associated him with an enemy and stripped him of his right to life. Chauvin, then, must also receive what belongs to him: a penalty commensurate with the crime he perpetrated. A rightful conviction will serve the interests of justice. Callous violence, looting, and destruction will not.
In these trying times, the world needs voices of hope, not despair. Only solidarity, fraternity, and kindness will root out the errors of racism and hate. And in the final analysis, peace will only arrive through the language of love, which never seeks its own interests, but rejoices in the truth. George Floyd was the victim of hatred and unlawful violence. Only the elimination of those vices — not their perpetuation — will honor his cause.