Hello, my name is Kylie Patterson, and I’m a Justice Fellow for 2020, and here is my reflection. My understanding of water and justice in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions has evolved so much over the course of the first half of this JLF program.
First, I never understood – or never appreciated – what was the impact of history on the text. So much of these texts could almost be considered a history of the time, in addition to being the foundation of religions.
The second observation I’ve made is that there’s always a commitment to justice.
I think sometimes it’s easy to forget that these faiths do have these underlying commitments to justice, and that its believers – or its followers – are meant to pursue justice in all that they do, be it because it is the right thing to do, because it is the logical thing to do, or because it is what’s required of you because of your faith.
And I think now, in light of the recent murder of George Floyd, and the work happening across the world of people asking for justice, asking that Black Lives Matter – that this is even more appropriate. And what we’re seeing, too, is that multiple people from multiple faith backgrounds, are standing up and demanding justice in line with their faith backgrounds.
I think another part that has evolved over the course of this program is, frankly, just an appreciation of the similarities that my faith background, which is Christianity, has with other faith backgrounds. I think it’s really easy to become really pigeonholed, and very definite in your understanding of your religion and the dogma and the experiences you’ve had so far. And being able to sit with people of all faiths and really learn, you know – not only read the text, but understand the context and understand people’s lived experience, as well, of the faith. Because that’s so much about this, right, is that the words that we hear and the words that we read – they all have connotations sometimes based off of our own experience and history with those words. And so learning that and experiencing that with my peers was so valuable.
I think in terms of how this is informing my work as I’ve continued to establish justice, and using our agency to establish justice, is that this work has been going on for so long. You know, I think sometimes we feel as though the first time had to pursue justice was when Civil Rights Movement or was now. But, no, this has been a continual fight since the origins of us as people, since the origins of our faiths. And that so much of justice is being justified, so that more people – and all people – can experience the peace that our creators designed for us. You know, this belief that the world was created so that we can enjoy each other, lift up each other, and love each other. And I think, really, if anything, I think justice is really just an expression of love. And I think throughout all of this, I‘ve learned, in even a more personal way, to have a deeper love for my peers in the classroom, a deeper love for all humanity.
The city of Baltimore is part of a national conversation around questions of justice, race, and community. In the initiative Imagining Justice in Baltimore, ICJS will contribute the perspectives of local Jews, Christians, and Muslims to the public conversation about (in)justice in Baltimore. Each contributor represents her or his own opinion. We welcome this diversity of perspective and are not seeking a single definition of justice between traditions, nor denying the multivocal nature of justice within traditions.