January 4–Justice: Conditions

As I ponder justice, I keep encountering all of the conditions that seem to be in place whenever human beings speak of justice, injustice and social justice.

There are the conditions that the suffering person is in. When we can see those conditions, most human beings are moved to help alleviate them.  We often only see the surface conditions, though.  We see that someone is hungry, so we do a canned food drive.  We don’t see that the hungry individuals have been, for example, gut-punched by abusive conditions for generations.  Then, we begin to pull back:  what did YOU do, we ask of the abused, about their abuse.

I am also aware of the conditions that I and others bring as the ones who are empowered by our culture to decide, in the first place, who may receive justice and who may not.  Recently, someone told me that a tax system which fell heavier on the rich than the poor was immoral.  He told me that if the poor were taxed more, they would feel like they were part of the system and had something to contribute.  What belies this position is a condition of affluence that the speaker has always known in his life.  He cannot imagine another condition in which everything in the world around you is set against you.

If we want to talk about an authentic justice that sets all beings free to their fullest potential, we have to look at conditions.  And, I think, we have to look through those conditions to a compassion that can embrace every condition–until the conditions loose themselves from us as a death grip and begin to be a kind of window into truth.

Bob Patrick

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