Love and truth meet; justice and shalom kiss. (85:11)
Sometimes, love and truth conflict with one another. “I love you and want to say only good things to you and about you. I don’t want to tell you the truth, because the truth will hurt you.”
Justice might demand a disruption in the status quo. Rosa Parks sought justice in being able to choose where to sit. Martin Luther King, Jr., sought a just society in which the color of one’s skin wouldn’t prevent one from exercising the right to vote. Non-Orthodox Jews in Israel want the same right to communal worship at the Kotel, the Western Wall, as Orthodox Jews. Gay and lesbian people want fair and just marriage equality so their partnerships and families have the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual partnerships and families. Each of these demands have created tension in society. Sometimes, justice and shalom temporarily contradict each other.
We all look forward to times when everyone is happy and there is no strife. However, an organization or a society does not mature during those times. It is only at times when a problem comes up and the organization has to struggle with questions of self-identity in order to find a solution that the organization can potentially become stronger. On a micro level, that’s how muscles work as well. When we exercise, we are breaking muscle tissue which then repairs itself and grows stronger. On a macro level, if the organization takes the conflict seriously, which means examining the root of the conflict and deciding which potential solution is most in line with its mission, then it will heal the wounds of the conflict and becomes stronger as a result. Organizations which make decisions opposed to their mission for the sake of expediency or making people happy have not wrestled with the difficult issues, and subsequently will be weakened.
When we tell the truth in a loving way we temporarily break society for the sake of justice but find shalom in a new status quo. In a world where two men or two women can go to the courthouse and get a marriage license without anyone raising an eyebrow, we would look back on a past when this was not so and wonder how people could ever have been so narrow minded.