Pursue peace or justice? Be wise in response to others this period

Irate supporters of Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga protest the results after Kenya Kwanza counterpart William Ruto was declared the winner of Kenya’s presidential election by IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati on August 15, 2022. [Stafford Ondego, Standard] .

Since the declaration of presidential election results last week, Kenyans have once again fallen into the ideological warfare between the call to peace and the pursuit of justice.

Those aggrieved by the declaration of William Ruto as the President-Elect, feel that the elections were bungled – at least in the final tallying. Therefore, to simply accept the results and move on would be a legal and constitutional travesty.

This group perceives the calls for peace as an attempt to subdue their hunger for justice against those who messed up the elections.

At the other end of the spectrum are proponents of peace, who believe the elections were free, fair, and credible.

The declaration of the presidential results followed the legal and constitutional pathway, and thus perfectly legitimate.

To this group, elections are over, and we have a new President-Elect waiting to be sworn into office. Their rallying call is for Kenyans to forget the past and do all in their capacity to maintain peace so that life can move on.

Sadly, Kenyans are now judging one another on the basis of whether you are concerned about peace or about justice. Whether in conversation or in prayer, people will listen keenly to determine if you are Yellow or Blue – a supporter of Azimio or of Kenya Kwanza.

Whereas to some this may appear trivial, the proponents of these positions hold them quite firmly. There are individuals or groups that are ready to lay down their lives in defence of these positions.

They have the strong belief that your political affiliation can be easily revealed by listening to your conversation, prayer or song.

Indeed, some have wondered why the Church seems to be more concerned about peace when it is obvious that the call for justice should be the more paramount.

This is unfortunate because God is a God of justice as much as He is the Prince of Peace.

In His rule over the affairs of nations He does not operate in such strictures as we sometimes erect for Him and for ourselves.

Instead, He rules and reigns with sovereignty that can sometimes be confounding.

When the disciples once came across a man born blind, their immediate thought was that this must have been the consequence of sin.

They asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, so that he was born blind?” But Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

In essence Jesus proffered a most powerful principle – that as much as blindness is a terrible thing, it can manifest the work of God. Thus, not every terrible situation will end up negatively.

The most important task before us, therefore, is not to stereotype our fellow Kenyans, but rather to seek to live in harmony as we await other processes. The advice of the Apostle Paul is that we should rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.

Thus, in our interactions, we must move away from provocative celebrations that rub salt into the injuries of losers. Likewise, avoid accusative insults or cynical complaints that dampen the joy of winners.

Instead, we must take the higher way of weeping with those who weep and rejoicing with those who rejoice.

When Jesus went for a wedding at Cana in Galilee, even though His heart must have been burdened with the sinful state of the world, He did not disrupt the party. Instead, He made them the best wine they had ever tasted!

Likewise, when Jesus went to the home of Martha and Mary and found them mourning the loss of their brother Lazarus, He did not rebuke them for their lack of faith. Instead, Jesus wept!

It is such disposition that will help us manage our current emotions. Otherwise, the insensitivities with which some of us are painting others yellow or blue – simply on the basis of whether they advocate for peace or justice – can stir up venomous emotions. This dichotomous thinking can easily throw us back into the ditches of 2007 and 2017.