Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Word Justice

What does the word "justice" mean? By dictionary definition, justice is the administration of what is just (as by assigning merited rewards or punishments) or the administration of law. If all laws were just, meaning ethical,  honorable, right, and good, this definition might be perfectly true; however, as human beings we know that not all laws that were ever created were just. Therefore, is the definition of justice an appropriate definition?

Some people would argue that all of the laws we have in place today in America are just. Back when it was legal to have slaves, the majority of white Americans would have said the same thing. Slaves could not argue with this; they would be punished severely if they ran away from their masters and found. Which act would have been more justified, under the definition of justice, for a white person who found a run-away slave to be: either return the slave to the owner to be beaten and punished or help the slave run away even further? At that time, the white person would have brought justice to the owner of the slave by returning the slave to them; but was this the morally, ethically, honorably and right thing to do by the slave himself? Now, we would say that the white person would be more justified in helping the slave escape further.

The term "justice" has such conflicting definitions that it is hard to decide what actions to take in a situation such as the one presented. Laws are not always morally and ethically good but one definition of justice is the administration of the law. Would choosing either what is morally just or choosing to follow the law an act of justice? Some would say it would depend on the situation. Some would say to always follow the law and others yet would say people should always do what is right. It is our job as human beings to create a more clear definition for the word justice so that type of conflict does not arise anymore.