Let justice well up like water, and righteousness like a flowing stream.Book of Amos 5:24
The Prophet Amos of the Hebrew Scriptures is a prophet of social justice. Justice in all forms is extremely important in Judaism, as justice is understood to be an inherent quality of God. In other words, God is justice.
Justice is living in right-relationship with God and creation. Justice is a natural aspect of the universe, similar to the way gravity is a part of the universe. Justice is imbued in the pattern of creation. What is just is true and right. Justice, truth and righteousness are natural outpourings of living in alignment with God.
The moral arc of the universe is long, and it bends toward justice. Many of us have heard these words used by Martin Luther King Jr. This bend toward justice is not inevitable though. Instead, it is reliant on each of us doing the work of justice in the physical realm. We have a responsibility to create and sustain the field so that justice can be actualized. Each of us has an innate responsibility to participate in the pursuit of justice in this world.
Justice points to the truth that all life is sacred and imbued with an inalienable dignity. Often, our society views helping those in need as being generous or benevolent. From the Jewish perspective, helping those in need is purely the right thing to do and thus is an act of justice, an act of aligning our earthly experience with natural cosmic law. In this case, justice looks like equity, respect and dignity.
Amos used the powerful imagery of water to convey the natural, powerful aspects of justice. Let justice well up like water, and righteousness like a flowing stream. To do what is right is to be in alignment with the flow of justice. Do we block it with dams of unjust actions and unjust attitudes, or are we allowing the natural flow of justice in our lives and others?