american justice league

Lately I’ve been thinking about justice, especially from an American context.  We have the “American Justice League,” tv shows like Law & Order, and Hollywood’s movies, most of which are epitimized by a happy ending where good prevails over all evil.  Somebody goes to jail or dies or is somehow forced to reconcile in order to satisfy our thirst for surface level equality.  If a movie’s ending does not provide that resolution, we as the viewer feel uneasy, unsettled, without closure. 

I think what it comes back to is this: balance; living in the tension of what we feel should be right and what actually happens in reality.  I’m sitting here at work: doing bed checks every 15 minutes, reading stories to try to help kids to fall asleep, sitting by their rooms so they know they are safe.  And I’m thinking of all the times I’ve done something to help people in need because I needed to feel like I was making a difference – and did more harm to them than by not doing anything at all.

Why is it so hard to live in that discomfort? It’s the same idea as being perfectly ok with sitting in silence with somebody instead of talking just to fill a void. Maybe, the best thing we can do sometimes is not try to fix everything ourselves, but instead – to coin one of my favorite Beatles tunes – just “let it be.” I’m not saying ignore the instinct to do right and help others – I think I’m just asking myself WHY myself and so many other people fill out a one-time check around Christmas to orphans in Botswana.. I don’t think it’s a spontaneous altruistic gesture, I think it satisfies the urge that chips away every so often, and gives us a sense of accomplishment like it will secure our eternal destination somehow.

These night shifts are tough. I’m noticing that I’m wordier and more talkative than usual, and it’s probably due to being by myself all night with no one to talk to except the occasional kiddo that wakes up – and they are not the pleasant interactions that I need. Although they make me think about things like justice, and why there is not enough of it in the world.

Anyhow. It’s nice to just think out loud (or on the internet) every once in a while.. Does anybody know of a good book on this subject?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “american justice league

  1. Ah, but what is justice? Is it that people get what they deserve? What do we really “deserve?” Do we assume a standard of justice to be the same for everyone, regardless of what class, family or culture in which they begin life?

    I think I personally confuse justice with either retribution or mercy most of the time. Or justice as a measure of “equality” or “fairness.”

    I think two things matter; our hearts, and the consequences of what we do. When we send that check to Botswana, it’s probably due to the need to feel good about ourselves, no doubt. But what are the consequences (good or bad) of sending that money? It’s complicated.

  2. sarah

    i agree. and my point exactly about what we think justice is – people getting what they deserve. i wonder why we think we can make that judgement call?

    i like your comment about our hearts and consequences.

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