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Justice - Its Meaning and Importance

By J. Agustin S. Dizon

A commonly accepted definition of Justice is that it is a moral standard of all men to one another requiring them to perform their social and moral as well as legal obligations to each other and to grant to each other all that fairly be granted.

The importance and significance of justice can never be underestimated in the affairs of men. This is so because according to Pope Pius XII, just as, in fact, there can be no peace without order so there can be no order without justice.”

Verily, justice occupies the highest place in the hierarchy of human values. Under the Old Testament particularly in the Book of Micah, the teachings of the prophets of Israel were summarized into one verse only: “to do justice; to show constant love and to live in humble fellowship with God.”

Actually, justice is synonymous with righteousness in the sense that what is righteous is just and what is just is righteous.

Indeed, it is important to be just for according to Confucius “heaven gives long and good life to the just.” His statement finds strong support in two biblical passages, to wit:

“Righteous men – men of integrity – will live in this land of ours. But God will snatch wicked men from the land and pull sinners out of it like plants from the ground.” (Proverbs 2:21-22)

“The Lord puts a curse on the house of wicked men and blesses the homes of the righteous.” (Proverbs 3:33)

(Held at the IBP Main Office, September 28, 2007) Many do equate justice or righteousness with good karma and wrong doing with bad karma. It is becoming a widely accepted belief that the good or bad karma of a person has an effect on his children and descendants for numerous generations. Illustrative of the truth of this belief is a research and study conducted by an American author Leonard Ravenhill on two separate but typical families in the United States. He referred to one as the Edward family and the other one as the Jukes family. He revealed the outcome of his research as follows:

Edward Family

Jonathan Edwards, known as a just and moral man, had at the time of this study, 1,394 descendants from his union with a Christian wife, Sarah. Of them, there were 100 preachers and missionaries, 100 lawyers, 80 public officials, 75 army and navy officers, 65 college professionals, 60 authors of prominence, 60 physicians, 30 judges, 13 college presidents, 3 United States Senators, 1 Vice-President of the United States, and 295 college graduates, among whom were governors of states and ministers to foreign countries.

Jukes Family

But the power of the nuclear family works both ways. Max Jukes was an atheist and an example of ungodly living. From his union sprang 540 known descendants whose record is less impressive - 310 died as paupers; 150 were\ criminals; 100 drunkards; 7 murderers; and more than half of the women were prostitutes. The offsprings of Jukes and his wife are a vivid reminder that what can work for good can also produce evil when bad karma of a person is involved.

Anchored on the aforesaid research and study, it can well be said that while  it pays to have a good karma by being just and moral, it does not pay to have a bad karma by being unjust and ungodly. Your children and other descendants will most likely benefit or suffer from your karma depending upon whether it is good or bad. In the Bible particularly in Deuteronomy 5:8, God was quoted to have said “I bring punishment on those who hate me by disobeying my laws and on their descendants up to the third and fourth generation but I show my love to thousands of generations of those who love me and obey my laws.”

From one perspective, it can be stated that the opposite of justice is not injustice but absence or lack of love. Nobody can possibly inflict injustice to anyone if he has enough love in his heart. On another but different perspective, the question of justice is intertwined with morality. In fact, as the philosopher Cicero said, “nothing that lacks justice can be morally right.” Justice is so important that it must be administered first before mercy because as it has been said by an anonymous writer, “only the actions of the just smell sweet and blossom in the dust.”

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