JUSTICE

You are driving normally. You haven’t done anything wrong. At the crossing police stops you. Though you haven’t done anything wrong you become defensive. You are afraid of the law enforcer even when you haven’t broken any law. Why are you afraid? Who are you afraid of? Are you afraid of the law enforcer, or you are afraid of the unjust system where everything is possible? Who is responsible for the unjust system? Is it enough to say that our system is unjust and no justice is expected? Are we not obliged not to follow the unjust system? If injustice is meted to someone due to a natural calamity, who should we go to for justice?

Justice works on the basis of fairness. Justice is giving to someone what is rightfully due to him. One feels bad when one deserves justice, but doesn’t get it.

Why does one become unjust?

Passion is one reason. We often don’t want to tell the hard truth to our friends and relatives. While dealing with them compassion and loyalty play a disproportionately bigger role. When we do that, we do them more harm than good.

Connectedness with others can’t be ignored. It simulates natural affection, and that in turn, cultivates a love for justice. Telling the truth is often costly, particularly, if the truth is to be told to someone more powerful. It is because the powerful determine what is wrong and right. Justice varies; the weaker you are, more are your chances of becoming the victim of injustice. Justice seems natural and appropriate when we are the beneficiaries of just action. When we are sufferers, we feel the pinch of injustice more. When we don’t get what we feel we deserve, we feel we are deprived of justice.

Rules often don’t care for fairness. In a rule-bound system, it is easier to bend the rules. Often, we break the rules to obtain justice. Often, we tell the truth even when we know that some truths hurt more than they should. Should we then tell the truth on all ocassions? Is everyone entitled to the truth?

Moral algorithms don’t work all the time. On many occasions practical reasonableness, rather than truth, work more effectively.

What angers us more —justice denied or injustice meted? Both make us angry, but when we can’t do anything about it, it angers us the most. Justice regulates cooperation. Is there a possibility of justice in competition, even if it promises to resolve conflicts?

The premise of justice is that everyone is equal. Everyone should be equal, but is everyone equal? Sharing according to the contribution often gives rise to heartburn, resulting in relationship and identity conflicts. Sharing based on needs is another way of fair distribution but it also raises relationship and identity conflicts. Here, the cause of conflict (and injustice to the aggrieved) is how one perceives the need and the necessity to satisfy the need. Justice is a journey that is different for every person. It proceeds at differing speeds. An important aspect of living justly is to understand the implications of our actions and decisions.

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© 2017 by Dr Purnendu Ghosh