It is easy for emotions to be highly engaged in events such as the World Cup soccer. For example, two players were recently sent from the field in separate incidents that seemed unjustly handled to many, because they were seen as accidental. The ‘red card’ is a high price to pay for an unintentional act and it could be argued that this (and the fact that the team then plays a man down) was almost directly responsible for seeing Italy bundled out of the event. Nevertheless, life is like that on so many fronts and injustice does occur quite often. Helpful intervention is needed to protect us from the slow poisoning of offence.
When injustice happens on a personal level, it can be helpful to ask the following questions.
1. How can I use appropriate statements of fact and feeling to address issues and not just emotions? Empathy is often needed when an injustice has been done, but we need to clarify key issues at hand so as not to get stuck.
2. How can emotions that do exist be constructively and objectively channelled? For example, I need to take these to prayer so that I am not driven by them (or maybe to the golf range in the short-term!). However, I can’t de-legitimise emotions in myself or in others. Any people I consult should become objective mirrors and problem solvers and not participators in gossip.
3. What can I do vs. what can’t I do? Those who bring injustice may need to be confronted objectively but sometimes they shouldn’t be confronted at all. If I am unjustly treated, then I need to ask whether it really matters to defend myself. If it does, then I need to focus on what is within my control and not what isn’t.
4. What can I learn from the experience? All hardships can be used to help us to grow. For me, God used the kernel of truth in a criticism or the shaping of my responses to adversity to help me to grow. It steels my resolve to become more battle-hardened to face the next challenge with more faith and optimism.
5. Do I need to adjust my expectations? Feeling mistreated may not mean that we are, but just that our expectations were not met. These often need to be clarified since people will all have different ideas about what they should do, irrespective of what they could do.