"The Good News about Injustice" Book Review
International Justice Mission’s founder, Gary Haugen’s book enters into the horror and disaster of the mid-90’s Rwandan genocide. As he directed the United Nation’s genocide investigation, he recalls standing on the sacred ground of a church where large numbers of Tutsi (mostly innocent women and children) were murdered.
As someone trained to think critically for investigative purposes, it could have been easy for Haugen (or anyone in such a haunting space) to number and categorize the bodies of this mass grave. But after the heart-invested job of listening to survivor stories, he couldn't help but put faces, names, personalities, and lives to those lifeless bodies. “These mass graves might appear as vague, dark images of generalized evil in an unjust world, but in truth they were an intimate family portrait with a story for every face - each member of the human family having lived and died as one individual at a time,” Haugen writes of his thoughts during the Rwandan investigation.
From this devastation that happened after the world said ‘never again’, a question is posed: How can we make a difference in a world of such massive and brutal injustice? A world that in all honesty, at times, feels hopeless. The issue is not being aware or unaware of injustice, as one does not have to look farther than their TV, social media, or community to find some kind of injustice. The issue is that most of us are paralyzed when it comes to moving from awareness of injustice to action against it.
“These mass graves might appear as vague, dark images of generalized evil in an unjust world, but in truth, they were an intimate family portrait with a story for every face - each member of the human family having lived and died as one individual at a time.”
Thus, Haugen’s hope-inspired work is an exploration of how “ordinary people - from all nations” are working together to bring rescue to hurting people. Through real-life stories of seekers of justice, a deep-dive into where Haugen finds his hope, a detailed anatomy of injustice and its causes, and strategies for intervention, the reader can come to understand that “When it comes to seeking justice in a world of vulnerable men, women, and children, all of us are privileged to play a role.”
I especially appreciated Haugen’s tangible description of case-by-case strategies for seeking justice and the exploration about how different groups of people have been specifically placed to fight injustice in their own unique way, as well as his raw affirmation of the atrocities of this world. For a more personally-engaging and challenging read, the 10th Anniversary Edition of “Good News About Injustice” also offers a reflection and discussion guide for the issues touched upon in each chapter. Through the eyes of the further changes in the world of justice-seeking global development, one can recognize thoughts and word choice that may benefit from a slight update, but where new and forward thinking 20 years ago (At least I don’t remember many people talking the way he does when I was young).
“When it comes to seeking justice in a world of vulnerable men, women, and children, all of us are privileged to play a role.”
So what is the “good news about injustice?” In essence, that though our actions may feel small, there is great evidence of ordinary people and their actions being used to accomplish the miraculous: actually making a difference for victims of injustice. There is a great effect of all of us “standing together and demanding something different for our brothers and sisters around the world.”
About the Author
Reagan Swier enjoys fashion, food, travel, writing, and more. She believes that all of those passions (and your passions too!) can be used to advocate for social justice and create a better world for future generations. Currently, she is a Junior at a small university in Oregon, where she helps lead her school’s IJM (International Justice Mission) chapter. She enjoys the creative scene of the Portland area, which inspires her writing and feeds her passion for social entrepreneurship.