May 4, 2015

A quick aside and then back to Art!

The recent death of a friend juxtaposed against the building political campaign season has me contemplating once again the idea of Justice.
My friend's death was completely unjust. She deserved so much more, had earned it with her life, and in my view she got shortchanged by the universe. It made me so very angry - like going and tearing the branch off a tree and beating it on the ground while roaring angry. This was not necessarily HER view, but I have seen the same often enough to recognize and react to the random injustice of the universe.
This lack of an observable balance of justice has been noted since we started telling stories around the fire that was holding back a night full of things that wanted to eat us.

WARNING: Oversimplification of Complex Belief Systems Ahead! Please keep your hands in the car and remain seated.

We have created cosmologies, religions and philosophies to explain the lack and to justify it. Original sin is one that is currently popular - we are all basically bad people who do not DESERVE justice in this life. Reincarnation is another one that reinforces the idea that you must have been a right bastard in a previous life so OF COURSE this one is awful.

Fatalism can be associated with the belief that you basically deserve no better, or it can be a separate thing - "whatever is going to happen will happen/is already written and I have no control over it anyway so why try". Very popular among those who believe in predestination.

Another school of thought states that since the universe is observably lacking in Justice, then this must be the natural state of affairs and thus is How It Is. This sort of pastoralism equates things that are natural or unaltered by man as being the pure and correct state of being. We see this in those who look to the animal kingdom for cues on how humans "should" behave.
My personal biases have tended towards the first and last: This is just how the Universe works, so no point in getting upset about it - just deal.

I have also looked to primates to explain human behaviors - not to justify them but to understand them. And what I discovered among primates, among other animals as well was an innate sense of justice! Altruism has been demonstrated amply, but critters also can identify an injustice being done and will protest it. Granted, much like humans, this is generally in those instances when they are on the smaller slice end of the equation!

So where does that leave me, the armchair sociologist and philosopher?

Justice is something we need, we crave it. From infancy we expect and demand it, we have to be TAUGHT it is not the natural order of the Universe. So we must create it. We have to . Justice is an essential vitamin we require to grow and thrive, and we have to synthesize it.
We have to create systems that are fair, balanced, and provide justice for everyone. Not easy, and not a job you do once. You have to constantly service and maintain the machinery of justice because the universe is constantly supplying randomness, entropy and oxidation.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.                           Martin Luther King, Jr

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