What Is Justice?

When a tragedy occurs, we often hear pleas for justice for the victims. This raises a difficult question: Just what, exactly, is justice?

Ideally, perhaps, justice should mean the application of the law. We want to see our laws applied evenly to all, regardless of class, race, political party, or income. But what if the law itself is unjust?

More generally, we want people to be held accountable for their actions. But what “accountable” means can vary from person to person. What one person thinks is fair and just, another may think is too harsh, or too lenient.

Does the victim’s opinion on what exactly is considered just for the crime committed against them matter? What if the opinion of the victim does not match what society as a whole believes?

From a legal standpoint, the victim’s opinion might be taken into account, but the victim does not get to make the final decision on what is just. That is up to a jury and a judge. However, if a jury and judge come to a conclusion, but the victim does not feel that justice has been served, has it?

Justice is an important concept in our society. There is even an entire federal organization, the Department of Justice, whose sole job is to see that justice is done. But what recourse is there if people feel that fairness is not being achieved?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? Where does authority come from? How much power does an individual have? When should you not follow the law? What is the purpose of incarceration?

Work Or Play?

We all do some work and some play. But is one more important to you than the other? Which do you value more? Which do you enjoy more?

Share why if you wish.

Work or play?

What Does It Mean To Be Patriotic?

We often see calls to be patriotic, particularly in a political context. It is important, after all to love the country that you live in.

But what does it mean to love a country? Does it mean to love, unconditionally, everything about that country?

Of course not. The history of any country is bound to contain acts and events that are not to be loved or celebrated. Just as every country is certain to have things that inspire pride.

Some people think patriotism is defined by physical demonstrations. These might include displaying a flag or the country’s colors, reciting a pledge of allegiance, or standing at attention for the national anthem. After all, if you don’t outwardly show love of country, how else might you show it?

Others think that a unified front is important, particularly in the presence of outsiders. Demonstrations against national behavior, criticism of national leaders, and displays of disrespect to a country’s symbols are often seen as unpatriotic.

But is that true? How do I register my displeasure if my country is not acting the way I think it should act? How are individuals supposed to voice their displeasure with the country’s leaders or policies?

In a democratic society, they can vote, of course. But voting only takes place every so often. So what to do in between voting?

There are people who are public servants. People who serve in the armed forces, who run for office, or who work at the local, state, or federal levels of the government. Some people campaign for, or donate to, candidates that they like, or who feel they are represented by.

So what, exactly, is patriotism? Is it celebrating your country’s independence day? Or support of your armed forces, in particular veterans? Is it outward displays? Or is it what is within your heart? What does it mean to be patriotic?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? What makes a place feel like home? Where does authority come from? How important is respect? Freedom or security?

What Are We Responsible For?

This Sunday’s question comes from regular reader Meagan, who asks: What are we responsible for?

One of the most important parts of become an adult is determining, and performing, your responsibilities. Paying your bills, doing your laundry, stocking your refrigerator, and so on.

However, beyond our individual responsibilities are the societal ones. Determining what exactly we, collectively, are responsible for is much more challenging.

In the first place, there is the issue of scope. Are we only responsible for ourselves? Our families? Or zoom out a bit. Do we bear any responsibility for our country, our species, or our ecosystem?

Additionally, there is the problem of impact. Should we consider ourselves responsible for something we have little control over? Do I bear any responsibility for the human race, when I have limited control over the vast majority of it? And how much responsibility do I have over my genetics, over which I have little control?

There is a fine balancing act in place in this regard. It can be easy to take on so much responsibility that it becomes impossible to act. However, feeling some sense of larger responsibility can lead to inspiration, which can lead to positive societal change.

How do you find that balance? When you think about your responsibilities, what are they? Do we have a collective responsibility?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? What makes a community?  How much power does an individual have? What are you doing to make the world a better place? What is the greatest problem facing humanity?