Saturday, March 15, 2008

justice and existential guilt

In one sense, it seems to me that from my perspective, justice probably isn't really all that desirable a thing. I guess it depends on what you mean by justice.

If you had asked me twenty years ago, I think I would have told you that justice has to do with sin and God. That if you have ever once done a single thing wrong, you've broken God's eternal perfect law, and hence you are guilty, and justice demands eternal torture in hell. But that God, who *must* have justice, has fixed things up by arranging for his own son to experience something equivalent (and that's another interesting terms--I think of it in terms of chemistry--equi-valent) to eternal torture in a mere three days--no wait, I mean something equivalent to all the eternal torture of every homo-sapien ever born--all in a mere three days, and that if you're willing, all that punishment can be put in lieu of your own punishment, and justice will be upheld, since JC didn't deserve it, since he didn't break any of the rules.

Now I think of it in altogether different terms. Now I think of justice more in terms of ... fairness, of balance (which gets closer to the etymological roots of the word), of evenness. It means on a very local scale that if it's cold outside, and I have two jackets, and Eowyn has none, then I give her one of mine. And on a larger scale, if I have a life expectancy of 70 years, and 3-4000 calories a day available to me, and plenty of fresh clean water to drink, and shelter when it's raining, and huge amounts of free time with which to do whatever the hell I want, and super brilliant medical care which means that my wife and baby live through a placental abruption, while 1 or 2 or even 3 billion people don't have some or all of these things, then I take steps to maybe live with a little less and see that they get a little more.

This can slip into existential guilt, which means when Igor, who is probably getting paid around $8/hour to sit in front of a computer with a phone and make phone calls to do interviews with people who are on the government-paid-for health care plan of which I am a part, calls and asks me lots of questions in at attempt to gather data (which will then be compiled and interpreted by someone making significantly more than $8/hour (of course both of them are making significantly more than the 3 billion people who get by on $2/day or less)) which will allow that health care plan to operate better, including "What race are you?", I answer "I'm part of the evil white domineering richest race on earth."

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