The truth about social justice

“We should ask ourselves if we really want to live in a society that finally manages to evolve beyond hatred, cruelty and oppression, or do we want to perpetuate it?”

We all know that justice is about people getting what they truly deserve. We believe that those whom we judge as ‘good’ people deserve goodness, and those whom we judge as ‘bad’ people do not. We believe that good actions should be rewarded, and bad actions should be punished. We consider this to be justice. So if a person has been consistently cruel or oppressive for a period of time, we believe this merits some kind of payback, some form of punishment so we can feel that justice has been served.

With ‘social justice’, people apply this mentality to groups of other people. Therefore, groups of people who have been seemingly oppressed must be championed (irrespective of their moral viewpoint) and those who have been labelled as the oppressors must get what they deserve, including any hatred, vitriol or cruelty that people feel is appropriate to their actions.

In many people’s minds, this means that the oppressors should get ‘a taste of their own medicine’, so they know what oppression feels like. For many people, this is a legitimate justification for counter-oppressing a group of individuals – this idea of “you did it to us, so now we shall do it to you”. People often feel totally morally comfortable with this idea, because they see it as ‘justice’, even though it may involve cruelty.

But, here’s the problem…

If an organisation believing themselves to be working to alleviate inequality, suffering and oppression are actually creating it, or just shifting it to a different group of people (i.e. onto those who were previously the oppressors) then they are not actually improving anything in society. They are just re-allocating the oppression and suffering.

They are not advancing the common agenda for a more peaceful, tolerant and harmonious society, which is what most of us want. They are not promoting universal compassion, forgiveness and peace. They are promoting and encouraging “eye for an eye” justice. They have not done anything to heal the division in humanity, which is what we should all be doing. In re-allocating the suffering to those whom they feel are deserving of it, there is still conflict and there is still cruelty, albeit morally justified cruelty.

Even our advanced legal justice systems do not work on such logic, because we have all recognised that it is not the kind of world we want to live in. Imagine if every time you hurt someone, even accidentally, they were lawfully allowed to hurt you back equally. Can you imagine a world like this? It would be horrific; we would all be doling out justice according to our own sense of being wronged or harmed. Thank goodness we live in a society which champions the virtues of forgiveness and offers the possibility of redemption. Thank goodness our legal system has been constructed along far more humane lines of thinking.

Because as soon as we justify cruelty upon others, we lose our humanity. Something in our soul is deeply tarnished, even though logically we believe that we what did was fair and justified. We should cling with deep gratitude to our morally advanced sense of justice, which does not justify creating more suffering in this world, but instead seeks to instigate correction, and ideally, healing.

You may be justifiably angry with the group whom you perceive have oppressed so many people, but for you to genuinely wish that they suffer oppression themselves is a very backward and inhumane attitude. We are better than that. We are capable of more than that. To take away their power and freedom is one thing, but to make them suffer is itself an act of cruelty.

If on some level cruelty makes you feel pleased, then you must deeply question who you are and what you truly stand for. Are you truly compassionate? You cannot be if you wish suffering upon any living creature. Do you truly want peace? You cannot if you are angrily fighting against any group or individual. Peace steers away from conflict, and adheres tightly to the desire that all human beings will find their way back to love. This cannot occur through force, aggression or violence.

We may value humility, which is a very noble thing, and we may desire that the arrogant be humbled so that they may feel some empathy and compassion for all those who are suffering. But again, that cannot be achieved by force, because it is forgiveness and mercy that truly humbles a man. We have to remember who we truly are, in our heart. We have to remember the nobility of our high ideals, and act in harmony with them.

As intelligent, compassionate, empathic and mature human beings, we should ask ourselves if we really want to support an ideology of counter-oppression that is in no way better or morally superior than the original oppression.

We should ask ourselves if we want to be part of a society that finally manages to evolve beyond hatred, cruelty and oppression, or do we want to perpetuate it?

Do we want to revel in ‘deserved’ suffering, (which is a truly abhorrent and inhumane idea) or do we want to rise above the “eye for an eye” mentality, to truly higher moral ground based on universal compassion, rather than selective compassion for those whom we think deserve it?

It is not our job to judge the heart of our human brothers and sisters. If a loved member of your own family started behaving out of sorts, being aggressive, rude, intolerant and so on, would you try to find out what the problem was and see if you could help them to remedy it? Or would you immediately judge them as a ‘bad’ person, and seek to deliver retribution and justice upon them? I hope that you would choose the former and not the latter, at least for the sake of your own soul.

You see, compassion has to be unconditional, otherwise it is not true compassion. This does not mean letting people “get away” with cruelty and oppression. It means understanding that the desire to hurt others is a deep illness within the human psyche. For someone to consciously be able to create suffering for another individual shows clearly that there is an absence of empathy and compassion within their heart. Therefore, if you are truly a compassionate person, you will not want to create suffering for another individual, even if your logic tells you they deserve it. True compassion rises above this “getting even” justice mentality, and seeks to implement what is truly in the best interest of that damaged individual, which is always correction and healing.

The reactionary part of us does not think along these lines. It thinks that a person who has inflicted cruelty deserves cruelty in return. But imagine for a moment that you became mentally ill, or you simply became very bitter and resentful about life. As a result you became disconnected from the compassionate part of your being, and you stopped caring about other people and you started treating them badly, losing your sense of tolerance and objectivity, and simply taking out your frustration upon the people around you. Alcoholics do this, because they find themselves on a self-destructive and self-absorbed path that effects all the people they encounter in a detrimental way.

Would you want someone to recognise that you had a problem, and strive to help you recover your sanity and humanity again (even if it meant entering an institution)? Or would you want to be immediately adjudged as simply “a bad egg”, a cruel individual who deserves equal cruelty in return, and consequently be forced to suffer in some horrible way? The latter option simply creates a spiral of cruelty, darkness and suffering that benefits absolutely no-one. It simply brings more suffering into the world and deeply corrupts our own soul, where true forgiveness and compassion should reign.

We live in a world of unwell people. Some are simply selfish. Some are power hungry. Some are cruel and cold. Some are virtually heartless. We must recognise that we are all sick to some degree, and we must absolutely make sure that we do not become cruel or hateful; wishing suffering upon our fellow flawed human beings. You must ensure that you do not sacrifice or compromise the better nature of your humanity by condoning cruelty in the name of justice.

What this world deeply needs is people who are part of the solution; people who are not adding to the problem in any way. The problem is obviously inhumanity, heartlessness, hatred and cruelty. If you see any of these attitudes creeping into your thought patterns, even if you mentally justify them as being deserved by a particular ‘bad person’ or a bad group of people, stop. Look at what you are doing. You are saying hatred is deserved, and thus legitimising hatred. If you say cruelty is deserved, you are legitimising cruelty.

What do you truly stand for? Do you truly want a peaceful world, free of violence and hatred? Then you must make sure that you are part of the solution. You must strive to become a truly humane being who is free of hatred, free of the desire that retribution and “social justice” are dealt out to all oppressors. Everyone, without exception, deserves the opportunity and time to correct the errors of their ways, so that they may find redemption from the darkness of the selfishness, greed and anger which affects us all. Affording this opportunity to everyone is true justice; an act of true compassion.

“Develop the strength of your heart”

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About Alexander Bell

Lover of God, man of Christ, father-of-four, writer, composer of healing music & expert on nutritional healing. •
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