What of Justice?

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An amazing thing seems to be happening as a result of the culture of tolerance: justice seems to be losing ground. Interestingly, at the same time, vengeance seems on the rise.

Why do I associate “tolerance” with these two? In part because of Proverbs 1. In the book’s prelude, Solomon gives his reasons for issuing these truth statements. One such is for “instruction in wise behavior,/righteousness, justice and equity” (emphasis mine).

In the next sections Solomon defines and describes knowledge and wisdom, declaring that the starting point of both knowledge and wisdom is to hold God in awe. By extension, that means the starting point of justice is to hold God in awe.

But we live in a tolerant society in which God is not held in awe. He is the one person who is not tolerated. Not in government, in the schools, in the work place, and some say He should not be allowed to enter into the decisions citizens make regarding public policy.

Should we be surprised, then, at a loss of justice in our land?

But perhaps a loss of justice doesn’t seem apparent. Let me mention a couple things. Last night there was a reality TV show that created troubling situations in public places, then filmed people reacting. Some ignored the situation, others stepped in and did what they could to help.

One situation was a baby (actually a life-like doll) in a locked car. Many people were troubled and even called the police (who were in on the setup). When asked why, they said a life was at stake.

Later in the show, they repeated the situation with a dog. Again, people got involved and did what they could to rescue the animal. When asked why, they again said a life was at stake.

And yet, abortion is legal in our country, and people who “create a scene” as these folks did to save the baby, to save the dog, are painted as extremists and troublemakers. Would any of the people in those clips have said about abortion, A life is at stake? But they would say this about a dog. Where is equity in our land?

One other. Our courts. I ranted about this a couple years ago. No longer do the courts even pretend to be about discovering truth in a criminal case. The “trial” is all about convincing the jury one way or the other. If a guilty person gets off, the defense attorney says he did his job, which was to push the prosecution to create an air tight case, and they failed.

If an innocent person is convicted, apparently there is little recourse. It’s hard to get out of an air tight case, even if the “facts” are based on lies, as some have discovered when victims who lied have recanted or when recently retrieved DNA evidence counters the previous findings.

But where is our outrage? Why are we not picketing the streets demanding a return to the concept of justice? In some respects, it seems we have given up hope of finding justice within the system. Hence the rise of revenge. Revenge movies had a hey day for a while, and steadily that thinking has spilled over into our personal attitudes. Road rage and payback are just expressions of individuals wanting to get even. Wanting justice.

Sadly, our society seems to have bought into the idea that truth is in the eye of the beholder. But that shouldn’t be a surprise because the beginning of knowledge and wisdom has gone by the wayside.

Published in: on February 4, 2009 at 10:51 am  Comments (8)  
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  1. Excellently put Becky! I whole heartedly agree!!!


  2. A-men, Becky!! What a wonderful post!! A-Men!!!


  3. Wow! Wonderful post, Becky. How about a magazine article on this topic? World Magazine, I think. Yikes, that was a good post.


  4. Rae, Kim, Sally thanks for the feedback. And Sally, good idea. I hadn’t thought of that one.



  5. Western law is still very medieval. It is based on the idea of combat by champions. We don’t open court cases by saying “May God defend the right”, but the underlying idea is the same. Many European legal systems are based on the inquisitorial idea. The judge seeks the truth “even at the bottom of a well”. They can have witnesses and friends of the court who are neither on the side of the prosecution nor the defence. We may wonder why we don’t move towards such a system. But Western societies, particularly America, are so committed to the idea of competition and conflict that they could never give this us. The purpose of law in socieity is to provide order and mental security to the members of the society. The Book of Judges is a bit of a commentary on what happens when you don’t have this. It ends with the saying, “In those says each man did what was right in his own eyes”. Our legal system tries to prevent that situation. If sometimes individual justice is not achieved then this is distressing, but not fatal to the system. This also explains why it is sometimes have to get verdicts reversed or overturned.


  6. Wow.


  7. “”This also explains why it is sometimes have to get verdicts reversed or overturned.”

    This should have read:

    This also explains why it is sometimes hard to get verdicts reversed or overturned.

    I always find slef editing difficult.


  8. Thanks for the typo correction, Ken.

    Interestingly, American jurisprudence was interested in justice—at least in places where there wasn’t corruption in high places. It wasn’t until the 1960’s, I think, when lawyers started getting defendants that everyone knew to be guilty, off on technicalities that the system changed. Once the Supreme Court made how evidence was obtained equal with the reality of the evidence, it all became a game.



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