Right From Wrong?

We are living at a time and in a world in which telling right from wrong has become extremely mixed up and confusing.

Outright lies, “alternative facts,” simple ignorance and cover-ups are thrown around loosely in an effort to distract and confuse people and to divide our population. As Madeleine Albright reminded us recently in a NY Times op-ed, it is reminiscent of Hitler’s ascent to rule Germany in the 1930s – deliberate obfuscation, propaganda and indoctrination meant to isolate and demonize those opposed to the ruling party.

How can we now address this malaise and the potpourri of intangible disruption we are now experiencing? What most of us are looking and hoping for is, simply, a “just” world. A just world is one which is in balance – think of the ‘scales of justice’. ‘Justice has been done’ is an expression often used after a long, contentious legal dispute has been concluded. Some judges are called Mr. Justice.

The U.S. Justice Department and the Attorney General are deliberately insulated from Presidents because they are seen in the Constitution as the federal arbiters of justice, responsible for compelling the government to act in a just manner and avoid doing injustices.

Just is a bit of a strange word. It emerges from the Latin jūstus, and in contemporary usage has both temporal (“I just did it”) and moral meanings.

We do not often ask ourselves to examine the words we use in everyday speech to uncover hidden meanings in what we are thinking and debating. Perhaps we should do that more as in this case.

This simple little word has been masking a lot of things which really should be more clear and easy.

But justice is both simple and complicated at the same time. Justice is when right and wrong are blended into a widely acceptable outcomes. Justice can become very complicated when people have a hard time distinguishing between right and wrong, or when that distinction starts to become meaningless.

Injustice results when one side or the other in a dispute prevails without having found the crucial balance between right and wrong necessary for the other side to accept an outcome. Mutual acquiescence is essential to making the world function.

Consequently, justice is a critical word and thing that keeps society from tipping into tyranny or revolution.

The politics of justice lies at the heart of the principle that no one in our constitutional system is ever above or beyond the law.

The sooner Trump and his lawyers come to terms with that immutable truth, the sooner we can get back to making America great again, by which I mean a nation dedicated to justice again serving as a beacon for the world.

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