Monday, December 27, 2010

Justice

Lately I have been thinking about a great quote I heard recently.  "Fair is a place you go to in the summertime.  It is not life."

Natural justice and natural rights is a subject that I have been mulling over, and I have come to the conclusion that justice is just not a priority in the world we live in.

Everywhere we look, there is an affront to our sense of justice.  It doesn't matter if we are talking about people, animals, or societies, There is no way to make a consistent argument that in the end, it all balances out here, everybody gets what they deserve, and things are pretty much okay.  I feel like I am channeling my inner Schopenhauer here, but the world is not a nice place for a large majority of the population.
Look at our fictions.  Up until a few decades ago, most movies had a happy ending, or at least closure.  Why?  Obviously life isn't like that, but we need to be given some hope.  In the movies, if everything works out, maybe it will for me too.  In Shakespeares tragedies, EVERYBODY dies at the end, to be sure that all wrongs are righted by the end of things, and to bring closure to the tale.  Now we have more options.  Our movies run the gamut of everything we could desire.  Often I watch movies where the good guys don't triumph, and you know what?  It makes me uneasy.  I don't like the injustice that is portrayed, and it makes me think about real life.  I realize that one of the main reasons it makes me uncomfortable is that no matter the injustice on screen, the reality of life is greater.  I can't just tell myself "It's only a story" because I know that is a lie to make me feel better. 

We all laugh when a criminal's stupidity ends up with him getting caught.  I think this is because it helps keep us from the fact that most criminals aren't stupid, and don't get caught.  If your car gets broken into, chances are you will never get compensated for it, and the thief will end up with your stuff, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Places like China, North Korea, portions of Afganistan and Pakistan, etc. are rife with human rights violations.  People are imprisoned and are killed for no reason, and there really isn't much we can do about it.  I read a story about a 16 year old girl in the middle east that was accused of being a spy.  A "trial" was held and the next week she was executed by firing squad. 

The same thing was happening back in Jesus' day.  Go and read Luke 13:1-5, then come back.  What is interesting here is that Jesus is recognizing that life isn't fair.  Those who were killed were no more or less righteous than anybody else.  Of course he later is led to his own undeserved death in a severe miscarriage of justice, bringing home the point that this world isn't a place where the good get what they deserve, and the evil are punished.

I think that this aspect of reality was inherent in the early christian worldview.  This was the reason Jesus came, and taught, and died.  His message is one of restoring justice in the ways that we can, without expecting others to do the same.  Justice can abide in individuals, we can do the right thing, even if it leads to bad consequences.  Reading through the serom on the mount, it is a call to live a life of justice without knowing whether or not you will reap the benefits of justice.

Jesus called for a complete restructuring on all levels, from the individual up to the national. He talked of the "Kingdom of God" and came to earth to have that kingdom realized.  This meant the realization of hope in opposition to despair.  Setting up on earth a nation built from the ground up as individuals dedicated to justice, in spite of their experience with the world at large.  This citizenship allows for an acceptance of things as they are, with a hope and drive to bring about things as they should be.  This dream will never be realized while we are here, but it is the reason for the hope that is within us, to keep enduring and accepting and trying so that things begin to get better for us and for those around us.