(Orange, Texas)

April 27, 2013

What is Justice?

John Warren
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — Every man loves justice at another man's expense.~ Anonymous

I am sorry I am just not buying it.  That doesn’t sound like justice to me.  That seems more like a justification for the mistreatment of someone to which you feel you are superior.  That may be the justice of a terrorist.

Proverbs 28:5 says, “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully.”                                                                               

Is Justice fairness? Does justice require everyone getting the exact same treatment? Do some people deserve more than others? Is justice giving each person what he or she deserves even if that results in inequality?   Art Linkletter who hosted a TV program for years had a keen appreciation for the wisdom of children.   

He said, “Children say the darnedest things.”                                                                                             

Esten had nine years of wisdom under his belt.   Esten was growing up in a writing family. His grandparents, aunts and uncles, and his parents were all writers, with over 100 years in the newspaper business.  Esten was and still is a deep thinker.  

So I asked him, “What is Justice?”

 He said without hesitation,   “Justice is equality. Everyone should be treated the same. No matter how tall you are, how big you are, no matter how old you are, no matter what your name is, no matter who your parents are, no matter what you look like, you should be treated the exact same way as anyone else. If we come up with good rules, they should be applied evenly and equally too.”

I thought I would stir the pot and I said, ‘But what if I had a pizza, and I could cut it into ten pieces. Imagine that there are ten people who would like a piece. On your theory of justice, I should give each person the exact same size piece, no matter what?’  

‘Right?’ he said. ‘But what if five of the people are three year olds and five are fifteen year olds. Does doing the just thing really require that I give them each the exact same size slice of pizza?’  

‘Absolutely’, he said confidently, adding, ‘If after getting their pizza, some of the little kids decide to share with the bigger kids that would be fine. It would be nice of them. The just thing is to treat everyone the same. If people want to give away their fair share, that’s fine.”

 I can live with that.