On justice (an essay for Z).

“In Egypt, we are all about justice.  Justice, justice, justice.  Where ever you go, people are in the streets.  There are tanks.”

I was crouching in front of a swingset, gently pushing my daughter back each time she arced forward to nearly kick me in the head.  Z was standing beside me, talking politics.  It was a warm Sunday evening, nearly eight p.m. but no sign of incipient night; summer days stay light late when you’re this far west but still in EST.  Z is from Egypt and has been living in Bloomington for about a year.  He had walked over and introduced himself to me just five minutes prior to this conversation.  He is five weeks shy of nine.

“Justice,” I said, nodding.  It’s heavy stuff.  “And what do you think Bloomington is about?”

“In Bloomington? People here are about making friends.  That is what they do.”

I shook my head.  Again agreeing, but there are some thoughts you agree with by nodding, some thoughts you agree with by shaking your head.  Like, yes, you are right, and it’s a damn shame…

On Friday evening, our town had a racial justice protest and march (K and N and I were able to attend the speak-out portion of the protest, but after a mere five minutes of marching and call-response chanting, “No justice,” “No peace,” N began vigorously signing “all done.”  Unnerved by the shouting.  So we broke off from the column of marchers and watched them pass by, then schlepped her home for bath and bed), but the protest had a mere forty or so people.  Far more attended the Christian rock blissfest down the hill.

And as we were walking toward that protest, we crossed paths with a Sanskrit professor, a friend we met at last fall’s garba / raas.  Her daughter attends the school where K teaches; the two of them also recently moved here from Stanford.  And we agreed — yes, our little Bloomington is a nice town, but many people here seem to coast, they take life easy… or, as Z explained to me, they spend all their time making friends.  They do not always remember justice.