By Brent Johnson
What is justice?
In Plato’s epic volume, Republic, the philosopher Socrates is having a dialogue with several friends on the definition of justice. The 800-page volume is about the search for the meaning of justice. Yet even after finishing such a large tome, the reader comes away with a greater understanding of the questions, but without a clear answer.
Some would say that justice is each receiving what he or she is due. But who determines what is due, and to whom? How do we know what is due another? While outward appearances in a given situation may indicate what seems like justice, perhaps there are unrevealed aspects that take the issue to a deeper, more profound level, and alter the true meaning of justice.
Some would say that justice is the equivalent of karma; that what you experience is what you deserve, and therefore is justice. These people would suggest that justice is always achieved, sooner or later.
What exactly is justice, and why is its pursuit so vital to some?
Frankly, I don’t know the answer and I am certainly not going to try and expound further on a subject that Plato expressed so completely and thoroughly. But I do know that I am one of those unfortunate people who craves justice for all, and who seeks it with every breath I take. I call myself unfortunate because I seek justice in an unjust world, and so I am constantly disappointed and unfulfilled.
I believe that each of us is entitled to certain basic God-given rights, including life, liberty, property ownership, privacy, and the pursuit of happiness. I believe that justice is served so long as each individual possesses these rights, and that injustice occurs when people are deprived of these unalienable rights.
However, not a day passes that I do not witness numerous injustices perpetrated on my fellow Americans and on countless people all over the world. I am convinced this occurs because the modern framework of most societies on earth is an economic one, and that invites greed, immorality, and injustice.
The Principle of Justice
However you might define it, justice is first and foremost a principle. It is not an object that you can buy at the store, though many people seek to “buy” justice for themselves, living under the mistaken belief that money can buy happiness (and that happiness represents some form of justice). For example, you cannot place a phone call to the Department of Justice and purchase a helping of justice. No, justice is a principle that must be achieved, an objective to be pursued, and a circumstance that evolves from complex (and sometimes simple) interactions between individuals.
All societies are based on principles. The evolution of a society is determined by the principles it sets forth as most important.
For example, in a society based on economics, the bottom line is the always most important thing. Consider modern America, where how much money is generated by a given course of action is viewed as the primary determining factor in evaluating its desirability. In such a society, just about everyone wants to know, “What’s in it for me?” In other words, what can I gain (power, position, money, etc.) from supporting this or that proposal, policy, or program? It is a selfish society in which the component people look no further than their own lives and interests to establish the level of effectiveness of anything and everything. They only want to know, “How does this affect me?”, or, “How will that affect me?”
Please understand that I am not suggesting you should never look at how a course of action affects you, your family, and your overall circumstances. Basic survival necessitates that you consider these when deciding on what to do, where to live, how to educate your children, etc.
Prioritizing your values
However, life is about priorities. The character of an individual - and by extension, the character of a society - is determined by how he or she prioritize things.
Let me ask you, is money the most important thing in your life? If it is, then you will do anything for money. You will lie, cheat, steal, or murder, if it means getting you more money, power, or a better and more well-paying job. By extension, a society in which economics are the highest priority will naturally attract people who value money above all things. These people are greedy, self-interested, manipulative, unprincipled, immoral, and fundamentally evil.
Remember this tidbit of scriptural wisdom: “The love of money is the root of all evil”.
I can imagine that many of you would probably not murder for money. In other words, you have placed a certain principle above money - one that values life more. Or perhaps you have placed a faith in God and His Laws above money. Either way, your character has been determined by the way in which you have prioritized your values. Because of that, you would not kill somebody for money. However, another kind of person would not hesitate to murder another for his money, car, house, etc.
Would you steal money? If so, then your values place having money above obeying the scriptural and moral admonitions not to steal. Perhaps you do not believe in God, and so that is why you prioritize these values in this way.
Regardless of whether you believe in God or not, your actions are a reflection of the way that you prioritize the various principles by which you live.
A Society Based on Spiritual Values
On the other hand, in a society whose foundational values are spiritual and moral, in which the individuals who make up the society have prioritized their morals and spirituality above all else, crime would be almost non-existent. Greed, power struggles, and immorality would not survive long, because the society would be intolerant of them.
Did you know that in medieval times, people who lied were ostracized from society? Nobody would do business with them because they could not be trusted. Liars found themselves on the outside of these societies. The same was true of thieves and murderers.
You see, in a moral society, immorality is discouraged and criminal behavior is punished. Conversely, in a society in which economics is the most important principle, plea bargains allow convicted criminals to go free, and immorality is simply a matter of perspective: one man’s immorality is acceptable behavior for someone else.
In which type of society are you more likely to find justice?
A Passion for Justice
I crave justice. I desire it more than anything. As a result, I go through life like a starving man in search of food, or a dehydrated man looking for just a drop of water.
I become terribly frustrated and angry on a regular basis, because wherever I go and whatever I do, I cannot avoid the unfortunate fact that this world is filled with injustice.
The united States of America is a republic founded on the principles that: 1) each individual’s rights to life, liberty, property ownership, and the pursuit of happiness, are God-given rights, and no government can ever regulate, control, take away, or otherwise disrupt the free exercise of those same rights; 2) that government exists to secure the free exercise of those same rights; and 3) that whenever any form or level of government fails to protect the rights of Americans, the people have the authority to overthrow and destroy that government, and to institute a better, more principled government that will not violate those fundamental American rights.
Nevertheless, every day the Internal Revenue Service steals money and illegally seizes property from American citizens, the President and Department of inJustice violate the constitutional restrictions imposed on them by the American people, judges paid by the government defend that same government’s illegal actions, and the lives of Americans are destroyed in order to further secure the powers of the government. Organized crime is alive and well and living in government offices.
It isn’t any better over in Europe, where the European Union has established itself as overseer of its member nations. As far as I know, the individuals who live in the EU nations have never been given an honest opportunity to decline to participate in EU federalization. They are just told that this is how life will be. If they stand against these self-declared forces, they are branded as unpatriotic or even worse, terrorists, and often just eliminated from the face of the earth.
Even inscrutable China has jumped on the economic bandwagon. They have discovered what the international banking families have known for centuries: if the rest of the world is living for money, then they can control the world by controlling the money. Beware of China’s economy. The sleeping dragon has awakened.
I do not know the answer to the problem of rampant, worldwide injustice. I do not know how to find justice in an unjust world. If you do, then please tell me, because I need to know. I do not know how much longer I can continue like this: always observing, enduring and experiencing injustice. It is unbelievably stressful and unimaginably painful for me.
However, I believe that a solution would be found if people would reprioritize their values to make morality of greater importance than making money. But I don’t believe it possible to implement such a solution today, tomorrow, or in the foreseeable future, because too many people are entrenched in and unwilling to adjust their lifestyles.
Perhaps I am not seeing some available path to a more just world because I am blinded by the injustice that surrounds me. Maybe I cannot see the forest for the trees. If that is true, then I ask, implore, and beseech you to help me create a society where there is truly justice for all. Please. Set aside your pettiness, leave behind your politics, and if necessary, even abandon your property, and join me in the eternal and relentless pursuit of justice. If enough of us commit to such a course of action, we cannot but succeed in achieving our celestial objective of finding it.
Join me. Let us create a society based on morals, values, and justice. Perhaps our just society will only have a population of two - you and me. But that doesn’t matter. Once established, we will be a beacon for the world, attracting like-minded people from every corner of the globe. Just like in the movie, Field of Dreams, they will come from afar. They will not even know why but they will come. They will come because something inside them cries out for what we have to offer. They may not realize what draws them to us and our society, but they will come. They will come - both men and women - from all walks of life, all faiths, and every social class, regardless of their respective economic standing. They will come.
What reason do you have to maintain and support the status quo, the injustice of the modern world? Why would you decline my invitation? Let us begin right now, today. You and me. And the whole world. Let us make a place worthy of God, where freedom is rampant and there is truly justice for all.