Archived Opinion

Is justice really just?

Is justice really just?

To the Editor:

Justice. What is it? 

Is it a thing, a value, an idea, an ethic, a rule, an ideal? Plato tells us that Socrates sought answers by examining the opinions of passersby in Athens 2,500 years ago. A variety of answers were given, even Socrates’ own. But Socrates was as unsure as his interlocutors. 

In our world, that of the west, most of us do not have a clue. And for those who do, it is highly skewed — that is, we make of it what we wish, which is pretty much where it stood in the times of that man martyred for his piety. 

But, it is more than a wee bit up in the air today. Judges deal in justice. Or they are supposed to. There is a judge on the bench representing the 30th District Court that does not have an inkling, even though the North Carolina Judicial Code of conduct lays down tenets and parameters regarding justice that are not to be crossed. Impartiality is one such. Fairness is another. Not taking sides for personal or political reasons. But this judge flaunts all that when she can, when she knows she can get away with it. 

This no doubt is not an unusual tale. Judges across the nation abuse their authority. The power of being king or queen of the courtroom goes to their heads. They have lost their way, and so have many — if not most — Americans. You can’t expect leadership in a courtroom, the place where justice should not be tainted.

Times are moving too quickly for the good, the true, and the beautiful to bear fruit in its kinship with justice. We are bedazzled by novelty, by mayhem, by anxiety, rootlessness, transformation, self-centeredness, extravagance, and decimation of value that no longer has a linchpin enabling the connection between and among those values we once held most dear. To be tried is in the nature of life. To be tested is in the nature of wisdom. To break with the past with no firm and reasonable and just sight of the future leaves us only in the present.

No age with whomever its people has ever lived solely there. The Zen monk is compelled by biology to escape the moment. The committed Christian too frequently forgets her aim is heavenward. Time is all awhirl around us but we know not how to trim our sails. Forsaken by those who acquire power, we are left drifting in a miasma of laxity in the upholding of the just. 

So what is this just after all? Or before all? Is there embedded in justice some universality? Some absoluteness? Or is it merely a matter of a particular people and a particular time? Does God dispense it? Or does God leave it to man to make of it what he or she will? Humans shed blood over it. From suicide, to family, to neighbor, to country. Nobody acts without it. Even the insane act on terms to which justice refers. If it will not manifest in Congress, or the courtroom, or even in the church, what machine or technical device will ever give life back to it. Or is justice only and always been a gossamer flotsam put forth by power playing among those who are positioned to avail themselves of it? 

Socrates died for it. Jesus did, as well. Is that what justice is, dedicating or giving your life for a cause? 

Paul Steven Blank

Franklin

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2 comments

  • Here's what justice isn't: It isn't anything to do with the people who've hijacked what was the Republican Party: Senator Rick Scott and other Senate Republicans just came up with their "economic plan." It lacks even one project to lower prices for the middle class. Instead, repubs will raise taxes on half of Americans – including on seniors and working families. They want to tax the working poor and retired seniors literally to death.

    posted by Mary Curry

    Wednesday, 02/23/2022

  • Judges acting contrary to law and their own regulations and canons of ethics is now anything but a rarity. One of the major reasons the country is in trouble is corrupt courts.

    The true Church is aimed at the Kingdom of God. Too many times we see people substitute their own ethical system for that of God. The political left are past masters at it. Mercy and justice are attributes of God, and many that think that God is something He is not, are in for a rude awakening. The political left has built a god to their own tastes, and will learn a very harsh lesson.

    posted by Quartermaster

    Saturday, 02/19/2022

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