The recent events in Milwaukee have sparked renewed conversations regarding protests, rioting, and civil unrest. As people continue to shout “No justice, no peace!” there comes a point where the declaration must be critically analyzed. So, what is really meant by the phrase?
Merriam-Webster defines ‘peace’ simply as “a state in which there is no war or fighting.” Justice is defined as “the process or result of using laws to fairly judge and punish crimes and criminals.” As a result of the Milwaukee protests, people are now calling for peace in their communities. It is both warranted and reasonable to do so. People want freedom from direct violence, warfare, destruction, and discord. But what happens when peace is presented as the presence of justice? “No justice, no peace” makes much more sense, and it becomes a logical deduction.
If those people whom we entrust to protect and preside over our communities are not held accountable by any and all appropriate parties, justice is not present. This should apply universally, whether one holds a position of power and authority or not. If justice is not present, peace cannot be attained. It’s simple and it’s transitive.
Traditionally, “no justice, no peace” has been seen as more symbolically functional than it is mechanically. When parsed, however, it is as literal as could be.
There truly cannot be peace without justice. Peace is not present where people are suffering. Peace is not present when people are struggling for basic human rights. Peace is not present when justice is not structurally supported.
I find it prudent to clearly state that I am not advocating for violence. I am an advocate for peace which means I am an advocate for justice, in all forms and fashions.
Broadening the definition of peace makes it inclusive of those who need it most–those struggling for justice–and allows for the holistic understanding necessary to attain it.
No justice, no peace.