Justice

I have brought peace, freedom, justice, and security to my new empire”- Anakin

 

The Fall

The Jedi were Guardians of Justice. As representatives of the senate they avoided political affiliations and were dedicated to promoting justice and peace in the galaxy. The Jedi did this by applying a code that was ethical, moral and balanced. In other words, they used the “Jedi Method” for dispensing Justice.

Despite their best intentions the Jedi ultimately failed in their mission and were at times a source of injustice in the galaxy. The Jedi were not loved everywhere they went, far from it. As the Republic began to unravel to its end the Jedi found themselves making difficult choices which conflicted with the Jedi Code. The Jedi were complicit in the erosion of the democratic rights of citizens. Their action betrayed the very principles they stood for hastening their final demise. The foundations of justice on which the republic was built were compromised. The failure of Justice led to the rise of Palpatine and the final fall of the Republic.

The Jedi lost sense of who they were. Along the way they compromised their principles for power, prestige and influence. The Jedi became political pawns and were eventually eliminated by Palpatine under Order 66. It was an ignominious end to a shining beacon of freedom and justice in a chaotic galaxy. With the fall of the Jedi came the end of Justice.

Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity” –  Alexander Solzhenitsyn

A Complex Moral Virtue

Justice is a moral virtue that is as hard to define as it is to achieve. Justice is rarely universal or perfect. For every Justice  there is always a grievance left in its shadow. The scales will tip in favour for one party at the expense for another.

In a perfect world, every decision made in the name of Justice would serve everyone equally and no harm would result. We know this is rarely the case and one person’s gain will be another person’s loss. As hard as it can be to grapple with the outcomes, we should all strive toward “Justice for all” but be aware that mistakes can and will be made. Spend a day in the criminal or family courts to see this how Justice often plays out.

Humans are born with a sense of justice and become conscious of it at an early age. Children know intrinsically when something is unfair. They recognise compassion and empathy and carry an innate natural wisdom. As children age, they are influenced by parents, peers, teachers and the environment. Personal prejudices and biases creep in as the ego flowers. We never lose our divine sense of Justice; it only becomes shrouded.

Truth never damages a cause that is just” – Mahatma Gandhi

 

Lady Justice

No two people will have the same answers because everyone holds a different set of values which they define as stated principles. Each person has a varying outlook and idea on how Justice should be dispensed and appear at any given time for any issue. Every person has their unique set of preferences, bias and prejudices known and unknown. These vary and change over time with knowledge and experience.  The exception is those that are told what to think. Without further thought or reasoning they blindly accept dogma and dare not stray from it.

Jedi used their sound judgement and reason. They were flexible enough in their thinking to not fall into traps or follow orders without question. Dogma was avoided. Jedi would at times question the sanity or the morality of decisions made. At the same time the Jedi were sworn to the order and were expected to follow orders. This conflict between personal judgement of what was right versus duty would plague many Jedi.

A real-world Jedi must confront the same questions and grapple with the same inner conflicts. Real-world Jedi are diverse, they are every race, colour, creed, gender, political leaning, sexual orientation and opinion. There is no die-cast Jedi with a “typical” appearance, character or set of ideas. People in general are no different. Regardless of who you vote for, the causes and issues you follow be they social or environmental how you define “Justice” in every instance may differ from that of others.

The foundation of justice is good faith” – Cicero

 

Seeking Justice

Alcoholism distorts ones sense of right and wrong. I had a very skewed sense of justice as it applied to me. Despite clear evidence to the contrary, I was never at fault for any of the harm I caused. Restitution was for others, not me. Blame for my own faults could be assigned to others. I was never at fault. Even when deep inside I knew I had overstepped the mark I was able to rationalise my way out of it. I was the victim in all of this.

Recovery forces us to get honest with ourselves. We look back in to the past  and list all of the people we have harmed. Character flaws are exposed for what they are. Mistakes and injustices are admitted. Seeking to put things right we seek to make amends as far as we can without causing harm to others. Our pride, ego and security is no longer important, we have to put justice first. Our sobriety depends on it.

Justice takes courage. It also takes a commitment to rigorous honesty and humility. Selfishness, pride and ego need to be put aside. It is not a case of saying “I am right therefore you must be wrong“. It is about looking beyond appearances and courageously seeking the truth.

Justice is truth in action.” –  Benjamin Disraeli

 

Jedi Method

So be careful when you demand “Justice”. Things may not be as black and white as they appear. Bias and prejudice will only further cloud judgement. Be mindful of hidden agendas, ulterior motives and a natural desire for restitution or revenge. Justice should contain none of these things.

You must ask if your sense of justice correct? You can seek advice but decide you must, what is right. It may help to ask three important questions before you dispense Justice:

Is it ethical? Ask yourself “would you do something that you would consider wrong or questionable if it were done by someone else?”. If you cannot satisfy this test, then the thing should not be done.

Is it moral? Ask yourself before making a decision “Will I be able to sleep soundly tonight? How would I react if I were on the receiving end? Will I be judged harshly?”. Remember that each judgement that you pass carries consequences, for others and for yourself. Accept that.

Is it balanced? You must determine if something is fair. Does it respect the rights of others? Is it equitable (equity)? Is there also a degree of impartiality? Does it recognise the arguments and grievances of all sides equally (equality)? Is it fair?

Is it true? Justice only holds if it is based on truth. Honesty is paramount. Lies, half truths and falsehoods negate justice.

So, the question you have to ask is “what do you value? What are your principles and finally, how do you define Justice? What is your blind side, and do you know your own biases?” Are your decisions around Justice based on truth, fairness, compassion and wisdom?

Does it agree with the Jedi Method?

 

Image: March on the Jedi Temple during Order 66 (Copyright and all rights reserved by Lucas Films Ltd)

Jedi believe in Justice

Jedi believe in peace and justice

Jedi are the guardians of peace and justice, so we certainly believe in promoting them. Jedi deeply believe in finding peaceful solutions to problems if possible. Jedi are expert negotiators, and try to solve problems without fighting. Jedi embrace justice, which means protecting and preserving the basic rights of others. Empathy is important too, because without it, Jedi can’t understand how others feel when they are injured by injustice.

(33 Jedi Traits)

The fictional Jedi inspired millions of people. That inspiration was because the Jedi were portrayed as selfless heroes who willingly gave themselves to a purpose greater than themselves. They were the “good guys” who could be relied upon to uphold Justice and get things done and to save the day.

Society reveres its selfless heroes and always has. Their example can be found in timeless stories told in literature and in movies. As children many of us wanted to grow up to be like them and to serve and protect. Once it became apparent that Jedi was not a professional option, we wanted to be the next best thing; soldiers, marines and airmen, fire fighters and police officer or the town Sheriff. Some of us became those professions or found other ways to help people. Role models were seen as being those who were forthright, reasoned, fair, courageous and strong. A strong sense of justice was seen as a virtue.

“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst” – Aristotle

One of the greatest challenges of our time is how do we define a hero, someone who can be described as a guardian of peace and justice. The world has become a cynical place and the definition of a hero is not as clear as it once was. One person’s definition of justice will differ to the next.

 

Social Justice

Societal views and social justice causes move as quickly as feeds on social media. Each day we find another “hashtag” to jump on to in support. Depending on where you look the compelling issues of the day are racial  and gender equality, freedom of sexual expression, freedom of speech, minority rights, environmental defense, ecological justice, marriage equality, black lives matter, all lives matter, anti-globalization, save the whales, animal rights, welcome the refugees, stop the war, redistribute wealth, land rights, political freedom, media rights, the list goes on ad inifitum.

The voices for change and justice are marred with anger and frustration, hostility and divisiveness.  One is no longer able to sit on the side lines. Opinions are judged and to be silent or neutral is to attract as much admonishment and anger as the opposing view. Some views are not to be considered, especially when they contradict popular opinion.

Righteous indignation has become the norm on both ends of the spectrum as has violence.  Progressives resemble conservatives in more ways than they realize. For a World that calls for justice we have become judgemental on all but ourselves. Perhaps the world needs less judgement and more open discourse and forgiveness.

“Social Justice cannot be attained by violence. Violence kills what it intends to create” – Pope John Paul II

Be the Change

Most of us abide by the law. We want to see justice. As we observe others breaking the law we demand rectification. When we stretch the  boundaries of the law ourselves be it on the road or in our tax return we expect concession and if bought to account, mercy. Justice goes both ways. What example do you set?

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Ghandi

The best Leaders I have ever followed were consistent but adaptable to change, fair but firm in their principles and reasoned in their approach. At the same time they were open to ideas and never so inflexible that they were unwilling or unable to listen to the other person’s view point.

Being Jedi is being an example. A Jedi holds views and opinions but is not above admitting when they are wrong or conceding that the world is an imperfect place and so is our world view. Jedi are reasoned, they are not zealots who demands rigorous conformance to dogma. Jedi talk the talk and walk the walk, they lead by example.

Open Minded

Once upon a time I was highly defensive in my views. I believed that issues such as climate change and whaling for example were clear cut, black and white. If you engaged me in a reasoned debate on the topic my argument soon fell apart through lack of authority on the subject. I had attached myself to a dogmatic view and while claiming to be Scientist I only bothered to look at the Science which supported my view. Anything that potentially questioned that view point was either ignored or ridiculed as being false.

No matter which way you look at it, the truth is the truth. We can disagree all we want and demand an alternative but that does not change the truth.

Keeping an open mind and a sense of objectivity opens ourselves to being able to drive towards inclusive change. We all live in this world together and to deny others their opinions, no matter how offensive they may seem, closes the door for reasoned debate.

Whether we agree with the views of others or not, we must try to understand where they are coming from and the reason they hold the views that they do. Social injustice and inequality has a wide net and often we find that opposing sides have more in common than we care to admit.

“In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same” – Albert Einstein

Sacred Cows

In recovery I have learned to question some of my “sacred cows” be they around politics, environment or current affairs. My views were once highly polarized but now I am able to listen to both sides of the debate and recognize that there is always more to learn and nothing is ever really black and white. This extends to my recovery. I cannot stand back and judge someone in addiction who is making bad choices and causing harm to themselves and others. I was once like that, even though I thought there was nothing wrong. It was only until I faced the truth did I realize how badly mistaken I was.  My reaction now is more along the lines of empathy for the person and concern for the behavior.  I know that if I can change for the better so can most people.

Reality is actually millions of shades of grey, extremism is a departure from reality. Unfortunately extremism hold a radically “black and white” view and seems to gain more public attention than they deserve. Extremism is often coupled with violence which is a depart from reasoned debate and compromise.

The good news is that most people do not see violence as a solution to problems but a part of the problem. Violence is never justified as a means to an end, no matter how important we think it is. Any situation which results in the creation of victims only sows the seeds for future conflict. To be Jedi is never to accept extremism and to abhor violence in all its forms.

“Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace” – Martin Luther King

 

Forgive to Set Free

Forgiveness is another concept I have learned in recovery. Making amends made me realize that most people are not only able to forgive past wrongs, they want to. I always thought that resentment and grudges was a normal and universal state of being that all people had all of the time. Of course that is not the case.

Being forgiven by others made me want to forgive those I perceived as having done me wrong. I have come to realize that most people don’t seek to be disagreeable. Most people do not openly seek conflict. Hatred is not a normal part of our makeup. We are all born the same and only invent our differences later on usually through fear inspired by falsehoods appearing real.

Most of my grievances with people were imagined. In some cases I could see the world in the eyes of my detractors once I imagined myself in their shoes . I had hated my Father for example, but now as I saw that he was simply acting out what had been done to him and passed down through generations. The fear and anger could stop with him. The sins of the Father need not be visited on the son.  I forgave my Father and released that karmic cycle. I was freed from a lifetime of guilt and pain.

“Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Live and Let Live

The solution to all the conflict and hatred in the world is forgiveness and acceptance of our diversity. We need not agree all on things but we can choose to disagree agreeably and respect the other person. The world can still be a kaleidoscope of views, opinions and beliefs without causing harm to one another. Remember Justice is a two way street. If someone disagrees with us that is their right. Their opinion of us in none of our business. We keep our side of the street in order. We “Live and Let Live”.

There are some simple ways we can demonstrate a sense of reasoned justice in our daily lives. We can lead by example and show others that we are not inflexible or rigid in our views. One can still champion the cause of social justice through protest and lobbying without succumbing to the emotions such as fear, anger and hatred.

  • Treat all people fairly;
  • Allow people the opportunity to be heard;
  • Respect the person’s right to an opinion even if you disagree with it;
  • Seek common ground;
  • Play by the rules;
  • Speak up if something is unfair or unjust.

 

Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle” – Martin Luther King