Justice

29Apr08

I had you give me the first thing that came to mind for a series of words. A couple really stood out to me as you gave me your thoughts. One was “Justice”.

Here are your thoughts on justice:

Illusion, will never be fair this side of heaven, very much needed to end the genocide in Darfur. But since justice is all that it is to be gained, America really isn’t paying much attention, needed for those who can’t influence, selfish or self-serving, not happening enough, what I get when I forget to do homework, will happen when God returns, God’s domain, something to be striven for, is coming, mercy, law, makes me grateful for God’s grace, God, the mission, victory, not always balanced on this earth, rare, Awareness and action, grace, needed, fairness.

I am sure these thoughts come from many different places. Maybe personal experience, maybe book knowledge, maybe what you’ve been told. I’d love to discuss it a bit further.

Here is what the word justice means (dictionary.com)

Justice is, the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness, the moral principle determining just conduct, the administering of deserved punishment or reward

To bring to justice, is to cause to come before a court for trial or to receive punishment for one’s misdeeds

To do justice, is to act or treat justly or fairly, to appreciate properly, to acquit in accordance with one’s abilities or potentialities

More recently we have heard the term “Social Justice”. Kind of a way of picking a portion of life and focusing solely on that aspect. In this case, an equality between people. To have equal rights and opportunities as people. I love this and I think it is right on scripturally as well. Galatians 3:28 says, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

My concern though is that using the term social justice, we may be causing people to think about justice in one way. I think this is a good way to describe fairness in rights and freedoms, but not a good way to look at justice overall.

Justice is necessary for fairness. Justice allows freedom and yet still upholds law. Justice is both reward and consequence. Justice is something both given and received.

We know that life is not fair and we seem ok with that. But if life is unfair, life is also unjust. When we think about injustice, we may not seem as “ok” with that. But what are we to do about it?

So 2 quick thoughts.

One is that justice is based on a set of morals. What is right and what is wrong. We have to determine what is right and wrong before we can even work “to do justice”. There are some right and wrong things that I think are easy to figure out in this process, but others that may not be agreed upon. I personally see my morals coming from Biblical standards, so as I work “to do justice” they would be based on Jesus and His teachings.

Two is that, we often get overwhelmed by what is going on outside our small sphere of influence. NorEaster brought up the issue in Darfur which is horrid and one of many. But we look at that and think, “what can we actually do for Darfur?”. I have always loved the statement, “Think globally and act locally”. We have an opportunity to influence people around us right now. We can affect people’s lives in our neighborhood’s with the same passion and determination that we have to see entire nations freed. Everyday there is injustice. We can’t only focus on what is happening outside of the US, we also need to focus on what is happening next door. When a wife is abused. We need to notice what is happening in schools when a child is bullied. Or what takes place around town when a homeless man is ridiculed. This is injustice as well.

So, do you think we can make some sort of mark on injustice? Can we begin in our sphere of influence (cause everyone influences) to make some sort of mark? How can you see yourself doing this?



30 Responses to “Justice”

  1. i heard someone say that justice is providing influence for those that have no influence.

  2. I think that is a pretty good thought. I think it speaks to a way of fighting for or supporting those who can’t fight or stand on their own.

  3. 3 kim

    I spent a significant amount of time in a slice of the Church that heavily weights social justice issues above almost everything else, including speaking outloud about a relational God. While bringing awareness to important issues, it seemed to me to be an unbalanced expression of faith. I’ve also spent significant time in the ‘evangelical’ slice of the Church, where everything is built on the reality of a relationship with God, but that relationship has very few implications for one’s responsibility to anyone else’s life experience. While proclaiming great truth about the love of God, it seems to me to be an unbalanced expression of faith. So. It is such a spiritual relief to me to hear/read/see Christians working to keep both ‘sides’ alive (not that these are actually sides) Its uncomfortable sometimes to face what the ‘justice’ issues imply, but that’s only because we in the west, if we take this seriously, are called to sacrifice.

  4. Hey Kim. I think exactly what you ended your comment with is on my heart. We don’t sacrifice in America. we are so caught up in our own “needs” and “issues”.

    NorEaster in the original post said, “since justice is all that it is to be gained, America really isn’t paying much attention.” The West is very selfish and on being so, we are often not even interested in what is happening right next door.

    And I am totally with you on balance!!!

  5. 5 HW

    I don’t see justice and fairness in the same catagory. For instance, when I’m raising my children… if one has diabetes, it isn’t fair to deny that child sugar, but it is just. It is the morally right thing to do. We are giving them what they need. Fairness, to me, seems more about “wants” and desires.

    Or if a man is having a heart attack, we don’t refuse CPR because it wouldn’t be “fair” to give it to him, when we aren’t going to perform CPR on the 30 people crowded around. Sorry, sir. It isn’t fair, so you aren’t getting it. But it would be just (morally right) to provide him what he needs even if nobody else is getting it when it is within our capability to do so.

    So I’m 100% percent behind justice, in whatever way we can see it done. I’m not so excited about ensuring fairness (although I like my share as much as the next person) because I think often it is just something we say when we want what “they” are having. We try so hard to keep things “fair” for our children, but there are days when one needs something (medication, time, etc) that the others don’t. I’ve heard it said that God is not fair… but he IS just.

    I know I got off the topic… sorry!

    I like that statement, think globally and act locally. And your examples as well are things we can focus on in our sphere of influence.

    Heidi

  6. Heidi, You didn’t get off topic at all. Really well said and I agree with you.

    I think I was trying to place fairness and justice in the same boat regarding social justice. When rights are taken away, that is a time where I think fairness is involved. To have fair play or equality, their has to be justice. But we don’t need fairness to have justice.

    I totally agree with you when you say that fairness is more about wants and desires. We want the same of everything and that is not going to happen, nor should it always happen.

  7. 7 HW

    Yes, good point!

  8. I spent most of my working years working for the Federal Government. I worked for the DOJ (Department of Justice) – Don’t you feel better knowing our government has that agency?

  9. ‘Think Globally act locally’ is a very good saying – it ‘just’ (scuse the pun) frequently fails so very miserably. – Why? because all to often we use our own ‘local’ ideas of what we think the world (globe) ‘should’ be like.

    We tend to think things should be more like ‘us’ – instead of looking openly, fully and honestly at what is actually going on ‘out there’ in the big wide world.

    WE always use our own situations (or our own interpretations based from those situations) as the basis for what is a ‘standard’ to compare what we then see outside of our own self/community.

    This is NOT being Just in the slightest. It is not being true to the spirit of the quote you made above from Gal 3.

    WE must broaden our own perception (as God Himself sees Everything) in order to increase Justice in the world.

    We need to remember that God has made EVERY being in this world – he has made them different, one from another. Treating all ‘equally’ (i.e. not withholding things like: personal freedoms, generosity of Spirit) is my idea of being ‘Just’.

    Do unto others as you would have THEM do unto you (but remember that ‘them’ are not like us, exactly, and may have differing ‘moral’ codes to ‘us’) When Jesus said those words He understood that we all think individually – He was attempting to get us to consider others whenever we deal with them. If we would not want a man to do something he wants to do to us that we don’t want then we should not so do to him.

    We should only do to others what we would have them do to us (remembering that their needs/wants/etc are different to our own in most cases) – this does NOT mean we impose our will over theirs for that is NOT what we would have them do to us!

    <B

  10. 10 Heidi

    Thank you for changing this back. Alot easier to read with these Ole eyes of mine.

  11. Papa, Do you think they’ve lost site of what that division of government should really be about? Of course that’s probably a question I already know your answer to.

    Hey Love, I agree with you. We should never impose our will. This is not justice, more like tyranny. In my opinion, the Justice your speaking of is very humble. It should be lead by thinking of the best and the rights of other.

    “Thinking globally and acting locally” is quite powerful in a good way as I see it. There are 2 ways people could treat this.

    One is to open the door for someone in the store and equate that to “doing justice”.

    Another would be that they feel the worldly need is so great that not even opening a door for someone would matter.

    There has to be a balance. The first person I mentioned is probably more inline with your thought. I don’t really see that person as someone who even thinks or cares about anyone but self.

    The second person I’ve mentioned is the one that I would encourage with the thought of thinking globally and then acting on it locally. We have to see that caring for a neighbor is of utmost value. The little can go a long way. The pay it forward effect does happen. People give of themselves and others follow their lead. Those acts are powerful and those acts always have th best intention and are never self focused.

  12. I like the British Symbol of Justce – Blindfolded (so as to not being a ‘respecter’ of persons (appearance), with a Sword in One Hand and the Scales of (fair/just) Balance in the other.

    How does this differ to Ms Liberty?

    <B

  13. I dare say Ms. Liberty is a bit proud.

    But we did get her from the French :)

  14. love these thoughts…..
    you, then me, then Tam.
    lets start a revolution. :)
    keep these conversations going. change something.

  15. Brent – actually I think the DOJ does what it can to promote justice. I worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It use to have a symbol that had 3 C’s – Custody, Care & Control. I think those three say a lot about justice. Just a different thought.

  16. 16 ronpai

    Brent. This thought of local/global (glocal as it’s lately being referred to as) justice is something that I think about a lot. It is funnny that people get more fired up about hte latest darfur and then a few months later forget about it.

    If we are truly honest with ourselves, we like these things, because all they really ask for is awareness and money. So we make people aware of the tragedy, but is this justice? No.

    Justice though is/should not a “by any means necessary” thing (violence on violence). How then do we bring about justice?

  17. Hey Mandy, we all can do something. I remember Erwin McManus talking about that one time. About how people sit around waiting for God to tell them and often we just need to do “something”.

    Papa, I am glad to hear that. It seems by perception that that division of our government is being overshadowed by everything going on in politics and war. It would be nice to know more of what they do.

    Ron, I too struggle with “give them the money” and then everything is good. Tammy and I were talking about that yesterday. Money is valuable and necessary and many can only give to causes that are so far away, but that shouldn’t take the place of actual personal care and attention that can be given right around them.

  18. First I just wanted to point out one little thing that you said in your post: “Justice allows freedom and yet still upholds law.” Many, many (most?) times the law of the land is precisely that which tramples on justice. Look at our (US) own history, it’s terrible. And we’ve been better than most.

    I think that, though it is very important to promote justice in places like Darfur, we tend lose focus on the big picture. One of the reasons for invading Iraq (after we could find no WMD) was that Hussein was an unjust tyrant who needed to be taken out. But then what about all the other tyrants throughout the world? Perhaps it is reasonable to address each issue one at at time, as long as they are being addressed. I don’t know.

    But when I read the prophets and their frequent call to justice they were invariably accusing their own people. I think that a Biblical view of justice would require a very honest and perhaps scathing indictment of ourselves and how we fall short, both inside and outside our borders. If this becomes a standard for USAmericans then perhaps we could be more effective in the global arena, perhaps no longer having to rely as much on this failed cycle of using our wealth as a form of international bribery.

  19. “I think that a Biblical view of justice would require a very honest and perhaps scathing indictment of ourselves and how we fall short, both inside and outside our borders.”

    I think this is at the heart of what I am saying. I completely agree that “law” is what is binding many peoples. I still contend that “law” or maybe better morality is the gauge for what is right and wrong. I think as you’ve pointed out though, it is crucial that there is a standard of morals and I tend to believe that the moral stucture given to us Biblically would answer these issues.

    Nice to hear from you Big C!

  20. iW:
    “Think Globally…”

    OC:
    “But when I read the prophets and their frequent call to justice they were invariably accusing their own people.”

    Two seemingly incompatible thoughts…. If we ‘think globally’ than doesn’t that redefine who ‘our own people’ are?

  21. I have sent in my resume to this organization in the past but I did not get called in for an interview. I doubt I would be able to take the pay cut anyway. But someday…perhaps.

    In the meantime, here is something to offer hope and, for those interested, a way to get involved internationally.

    International Justice Mission
    http://www.ijm.org/

  22. Buddy, I think my statement of think globally needs to have more context.

    Take position or place out of my statement and and think size or effort.

    We should “do justice” locally as if we are set out to change the world. Our sphere of influence, to possibly one person, should be treated to the same effort that may be given to save a whole group of people.

    Hey Ric, thanks for the link, I’ll check it out.

  23. Justice is a complicated word for me to define because what one person on one side of the fence sees as “just” the other person on the other side of the fence sees as “unjust”.

    Justice in the moral sense is a lot easier for me. An act that helps people is moral, an act that hurts people is immoral.

    Laws and books containing moral codes are also always complicated to me. If you need training to understand what is written then the words contained therein can be too easily misuse to justify immoral, unjust, acts.

    We must have codes of conduct. That is what makes a society civilized. That is different from being a just/moral society.

    I see “justices”, in the moral sense, as pretty much hit or miss in the world today. I do think we humans are making progress at building societies that are more just/moral than in the past.

    The best we can do right now is to support those programs that we believe will bring more justices to the world and treat our neighbor in a “just” and moral manner.

  24. I hear you Ed. I for one look at Biblical principles as morals that could be standards for justice, but I also look at religions that truly treat their people unjustly, so i could see how you may not be interested in my religion setting these standards for you.

    “I do think we humans are making progress at building societies that are more just/moral than in the past.”

    Ia m not sure if we are actually making progress, but I am sure that we are becoming more aware.

  25. An act that helps people is moral, an act that hurts people is immoral.

    Here is where In Worship’s comment on Thinking Globally while acting locally comes into it’s own… Many times what ‘helps’ one group hurts another group elsewhere on the globe. Even though it is the SAME act!

    Living well in isolation to another’s misery you are the indirect ’cause’ of is NOT moral in the least!

    The situation with gas supplies and biofuels resulting in a world wide increase in basic food prices in poor nations is a very recent case in point – we are NOT learning Folks!

    Speak UP Louder and Longer Brent – lets all raise our voices and our consciousnesses! We may have to lower our living standards a tad though – for the foreseable future – assuming we stil have one!

    One Tank of biofuel in a Jeep is the grain equivalent of a YEAR’s Supply of foodgrain for an African Child.

    Anyone going to use a bicycle more for short trips now? Or walk maybe?

    <B

  26. Remember I clarified my context for that statement, so the way I used it doesn’t align with your thought here, BUT, they way you are using it is needs to be heard.

    Everything was say and do affects someone or something around us. I think it is silly for people to say “I’m not hurting anyone” or “they’ll never notice”. It all is noticed and it all affects in some way.

    Your right Love, to “live well in isolation to another’s misery”. which can happen next door or in a country far away, is something that is finally coming into the thought process of people in America. Albeit SLOWLY…but coming. More importantly I think this thought process is making its way back into the church. This to me is extremely crucial. I see the church as having both the ability and responsibility to be the world leader for care. No plans or agendas, just the ability to care.

  27. Great point about the biofuel, Love. This whole grain for fuel incentive is looking to be a terrible economic disaster.

  28. Did you guys notice that Costco (Sam’s Club) is rationing rice? Ya, I’m with C and Love on the “grain” fuel issue.

    Also, just in case you didn’t know, May is “ride your bike” month. Weather is starting to get good here. i am looking forward to riding a lot this year.

  29. Forgive me Brent, I was up on my soapbox for a minit there trying to point out, primarily, that what might be ‘good’ for someone of their group can – at the same time! – also be quite bad for a wide range of people.

    We need that ‘God Perspective’, appreciating that our best intentions often fall short for those we ‘forget’ to consider, or simply do not take the time to find sufficient information on, to consider fully.

    You are quite right in your other interpretation too, of course.

    <B

  30. No worries Love, my home is your home :)



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