Justice Roll Down Like Waters

But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
Amos 5:24

We feel the swift current carrying us to places beyond our control, past all previous certainties in our world. First, the pandemic. Now, the re-birthing of a social movement for racial justice, the painful pangs of which are now just beginning to push our society toward confronting systemic racism and oppression on a widescale basis. The countless marches, gatherings, and vigils reflect a collective awakening, finally, to the realities of systemic violence against Black people, and the centuries-old structures of oppression and ideologies that reinforce that violence. This movement ripples outward: For those who are LGBTQ, the Supreme Court ruling that finally recognizes membership as a federally protected category against discrimination; for DACA recipients, a ruling that enables a tenuous, welcome respite for a community living with great precarity. What does this time signify? Have we seen such a collective moment in our country’s history before?

We are experiencing the cascading of many waters, roiling and lifting us, carving out new pathways in our society and world. Converging elements that offer signs of hope that come from standing together to assert that Black lives matter. For some of us, these new waters are eroding our understanding of ourselves and sense of the world as we have known it. The truth telling, previously invisible to so many, are opening fissures of vulnerability, woundedness, anger, and frustration, which have been etched deeply by centuries of pressure and oppression. The openings have been there before. But this time, the world seems to suddenly recognize these realities. Is justice possible? Are we capable of real change? Can we see each other in our full humanity, insist on this for all people, regardless of condition and circumstance?

In this column, we begin with a modest step towards holding up a mirror to ourselves, opening ourselves to more truth telling. In April, a time that was worlds ago, we asked you to complete a community check-in to see how you were doing during a time of remote learning and social distancing. Today, we share the findings. We acknowledge that the picture painted by the first survey is very limited: It took place before staff furloughs, before the video of George Floyd’s killing went viral, and before the protests began. The second survey is scheduled for September when our students, faculty and staff are back on campus, whether virtually and/or in-person.

Further, in this initial report out, we want to lift up the fierce commitment of staff members of our LMU community and their sense of connection to the university, which are so evident in the survey responses. While all members of our community have endured much stress and uncertainty during this time of continual change, we want to especially recognize the outstanding work of LMU staff who have such critical, yet sometimes underappreciated, roles to play in our campus community. Please review the survey findings here. We will report back to you a few weeks after each survey to continue to help the LMU community see more clearly where we are and where we need to go.

This is a time for reckoning. A moment that insists we change. And we commit to this change.