On the nature of Justice

I went to the 12th pagan Festival down in Berkeley on saturday and participated in the main ritual there, a passing of the flame of sorts which was very moving.
It also brought to mind an old discussion I had at another festival a few years ago, concerning the definition of the word and character of Justice.
Justice, as stated by my friend at the time, is characterized as a blind woman standing with the scales in her hand balanced. She cannot see who is standing before her but extracts payment for wrongs that have been committed.
Her whole function is not to punish the wrong doers in specific but to balance the scales of the community as a whole.
She sees the bigger picture and in a certain way this is truly fair but in the snapshots we see it can seem very cold and maybe a little bloodthirsty.
On ditionary.com justice is defined in two main ways: Utilitarianism or Retributivism.
The first, Utilitarism, takes into account the welfare of the whole before punishment is doled out. The downside of this way of thinking is that it can lead to obscene punishments or none at all for the individual if the community would suffer. It’s like asking if the greater good more important than the individual.
Retributivism on the other hand believes that the wrong must be corrected only by the wrongdoers themselves, and the overall welfare of the community is not even part of the equation. To do otherwise would be to disrespect the guilty part as well as their victims. The other side of this arguments is that it is just a disguised revenge, someone needs to be punished and damn the consequences.

If you want my personal opinion, I believe that a mix of the two would be more appropriate. Punishing the guilty is all fine and good, I agree with the concept but I also believe that an eye for an eye doesn’t truly solve anything.
In some cases the crime cannot be fixed by anyone and any compensation is going to be empty no matter the intent.
When a life is taken, any life at all it leaves a gap in the very tapestry of life that cannot be filled.
Living with the loss of a loved one, especially if it was unexpected or violent can be a painful day to day struggle that no amount of money or time can help.
In those cases I really have no hard and fast answer for how it should be dealt with or how ‘justice’ should be carried out.
I do know that in cases where the victim is unable to speak for themselves, others in their community should speak for them, especially if there has been a blatant miscarriage of justice.

These are some words I found that were associated with justice:

  • revenge
  • freedom
  • karma
  • law truth
  • payback
  • retribution
  • vigilante
  • court
  • bitch
  • god
  • liberty
  • judge
  • prison

I found the words included interesting, but the words excluded a little disturbing.

Justice on Dictionary.com


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