Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
What is justice? Isn't wishing for justice these days like buying a tomato in January? Why do it? What makes you think such a thing is possible? A January tomato? Maybe if you're living in Chile. But you're not, are you? Or maybe you are. But for my purposes today, let's say you're in the Northern Hemisphere, where we might ask the question, is it just for us to receive produce from lands thousands of miles away so we can have unpleasant winter tomatoes?
Answer? Not sure. There are many schools of thought on justice. Is it fairness? Is it just a word, like pennywhistle? Is it a flavor of living, like a little cheerfulness in your day, or a little cucumber in your water? Is it a parabolic, infinitely unreachable limit?
Is justice an ideal, unrealizable? Is it a dream? I'll tell you what, a fine fresh tomato in January is a dream, a dream that will never come true. So if justice is a January tomato, there's your answer. Justice is a little bit grayer than you want it to be, a little bit harder, a lot less delicious.
To everything there is a season. Justice, tomatoes. Stone fruits. Basketball. And when is it justice season here in the United States?
Some might say Justice Season arrived with the #metoo movement. Let's see what that justice is made of. A man in a position of power, formal or informal power, uses that power to force women or even girls against their wills to participate in or observe his sexual gratification. Years later, after having been ignored or gaslit or victim-blamed by the institutions empowering the male abuser, finally these women are listened to and their abusers brought face-to-face with consequences. That's justice.
Or is it too little too late? Or is it both: too little justice too late, but justice nevertheless? I think of the Innocence Project. I think of a man, usually black, who has been sitting on Death Row for most of his life – say, thirty-five years – for a crime he didn't commit. Let's just say for the sake of argument that he never committed a single crime. He was simply framed by the police and the prosecutor. But now, due to the discovery of formerly suppressed exculpatory evidence, he's finally free! Justice has triumphed!
But what if he'd never been railroaded? What if he'd been arrested and, at trial, had been found innocent and set free, never having languished for three-and-a-half decades? He instead spent those years enjoying life and the love of his family and friends, and perhaps even changed the world into a drastically better place? Or even went on to waste his life, but as free man at least. Wouldn't both of those scenarios be more just than the freedom after the fact? And if he'd never been arrested at all, wouldn't that be an even greater justice? Or is justice increased by the length and severity of the injustice it rectifies? I know these things are difficult, perhaps impossible, to measure. But the words, That justice is greatest which rectifies the greatest injustice, do sound persuasive, don't they?
Yet it would most certainly have been better, more just, had no young female gymnasts' accusations against Michigan State University's Larry Nassar been ignored, had accusations been taken seriously earlier on, or, better yet, had they never been assaulted at all. So one could just as easily say, That society is most just which requires no rectification of injustice. Which means, wherever fewer instances of injustice occur, that place is a more just place than one where numerous instances of injustice occur.
And yet, where there occurs no instance of injustice, it cannot be rectified by justice. Clearly, there's restorative justice, and static justice. Restorative justice is clearly inferior, as requires pre-existing injustice. In which case we might be living in a place of prodigious justice without ever knowing it.
Static justice is far superior, as it involves no one being injured, in the legal sense. It requires no one being imprisoned, for good reasons or bad, and no one being lied to, ignored, made to feel insane, or persecuted.
Not only that, but static justice is infinite. Restorative justice is extremely limited, if not rare; not even everyone who requires it receives it. But think of all the instances where no injustice occurred in the first place. Each time nothing happened, no one was racially profiled and arrested or killed, no one was lynched, no one raped, no one told their rape wasn't really rape, no one fired for accusing or having the potential to accuse someone who raped them of rape. All those times people were respected, lived and allowed others to live – each of those times was justice.
And I don't know about you, but I believe that there are more of those times than their opposite. Not only is static, ongoing justice superior to restorative justice, but it is far more abundant. We live in a world in which superior justice far outweighs its inferior counterpart.
It's possible to assert, in fact, that we live in a world of infinite justice. An infinite amount of the better kind of justice. I'm not saying no one has anything to complain about. I'm just saying this: those of you who think I've been a bit too depressing lately, well, an apology, spoken or unspoken would be nice, but not necessary. Even nicer, and more just, would be for you never to have thought so at all. How about working on that? That's called, adding to the abundance of really great justice. What better way to spend one's time? Although, if you're of a mind to grow some delicious heirloom tomatoes, I applaud you, and await the season.
This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!