A New York Times headline recently caught my eye. “Russia opened a murder investigation into a car blast near Moscow.” I wondered how a country that’s an aggressor at war, killing civilians in Ukraine every day, would be interested in something so petty as murder. Then I saw the rest of the headline: “that killed the daughter of an influential ally of President Vladimir Putin.” So there it is—some lives are more valuable than others. Don’t get me wrong—I’m saddened by this (and any) murder. And the use of violence to get what one wants is unethical. Justice in this world, however, is based on unequal standards. The supporters of Putins and Trumps matter more than any other people. Death should not effect them the same way it effects civilians being missiled and shot.
Throughout all this we might wonder where the voice of the church is. Churches, as institutions interested in power, are political players even when there’s no state religion. The Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church supports Putin implicitly. With the power of Russia, the power of the church rises. A few thousand dead civilians, well, let God sort them out. Churches become corrupt when they become politically powerful. Politics is one of the most polluting things humans can do. Long ago Lord Acton put it this way: “All power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Churches got into power-brokering in the fourth century and we’ve seen the results ever since. It’s not just Christianity, however; Islam makes it political and yes, even Buddhism and Hinduism incite violence when they become politicized. A religious body that takes its mythology too seriously becomes dangerous when it tastes political power. The world has many mythological figures.
What really took my breath away, however, is how many state resources will be devoted to finding and prosecuting those who killed one government supporter—we must find and punish those responsible—while thousands lie dead with the Russian government as their killers. Other nations are just as guilty of course, but there’s a karmic imbalance when that nation is an aggressor in war. Would you have ever expected a fair trial in Nazi Germany? Does not unprovoked war make a mockery of the very concept of justice itself? Justice, of course, means fair treatment. For all. She’s pictured as wearing a blindfold, after all. She’s perhaps one of those mythical figures as well.