Leaving Tuzla #2

We have made our way south, through Orebić, a small Croatian village located on the coast of a peninsula jutting way out into the Adriatic, then down to a coastal B&B in Albania, across Albania into mountainous north central Greece, then onto Volos and the Ferry to the Island of Skiathos. All the time I am thinking about Tuzla, about leaving Tuzla, and about Berkeley.

But the preponderance of my thoughts boil down to this: the fate of birth and the injustice rolled up into that fate. If family lineage was placed so high on a pedestal throughout history, determining your career, your station in life, your marriage partner, your way of living and your way of dying, perhaps the reason for the high esteem granted to birth place and patrimony is tacit recognition of this injustice and therefore the fundamentally precarious position of birth. Should anyone question the rights following from birth, much else falls to pieces. By what right . . . ? Well, by no right at all; or that should be the answer.

By what right is it that the individuals born into the communities through which we passed in Albania were all, without exception, living on the edge? By what right? By what right is it that wealthy Europeans and Americans decant onto the beaches of the Adriatic every summer to enjoy what many who live there cannot? By what right? By what right do we have the luxury to spend the last two weeks of our year in Europe vacationing on an Island in the Adriatic? By no right at all. That is the answer.

But I am then struck by deviousness of proclaiming all human beings “children of God” and all equal heirs with the Son of God to the emancipation promised in God’s community. If this is true, then we must count all the principalities and powers who deprive any of these — even the least of these — their birthright enemies of God’s reign. The equal distribution of goods, rights, privileges and protections is both politically and economically incompetent and irresponsible. But justice does not aim to be more efficient, more profitable, more productive, or even more ethical. Justice aims to restore to those deprived of what is theirs the things stolen from them.

Nothing except chance explains the fate of those who have been deprived of these goods, any less than fate explains the luck of those who have been born into the right family, with the right last name. A roll of the dice.

Which is why, as I return to Berkeley, I am thinking about how we must reverse these fates, reign them in, disarm them, so that the wealth all of God’s children are heirs to is returned to them, now, without delay.

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