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Visions Of Hope: Justice

"Justice is important in all walks of life, and if lived out to the full, gives hope for the future,'' writes William Sykes.

Justice—just conduct; fairness; exercise of authority in maintenance of right


Every year in the college chapel we have a confirmation service. I had not been at University College, Oxford very long before a post-graduate mathematician came to see me. He wanted to be prepared for confirmation.

We began our informal classes—a slightly varied form of a reflection group. On one occasion he chose the topic 'justice'. After our half-hour period of silent reflecting on the topic, I asked him if there was any particular reason for choosing 'justice'. 'Yes,' he said, Tm thinking about what to do in life. My plans are to complete my doctorate, work in the City, make some money, and then set up my own business. I'm wondering if I can justify this as a Christian.'

I asked him if he had found anything helpful in the section. Yes, it had given him plenty to think about. He felt that justice was indeed the keyword. He would have to be careful in his choice of product which his company would be producing. It would have to be meeting a genuine need for customers, and not just a want stimulated by clever advertising. He would also have to be fair to his work force—give them a decent wage—and make every effort to provide them with good working conditions. This would require careful forethought. He would like to reduce boredom and monotony to a minimum, and make jobs in his firm as interesting as possible. As for marketing, he wondered if he had an important responsibility to the customer—that the product be well made.

Justice is important in all walks of life, and if lived out to the full, gives hope for the future.

Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God gives you.
Deuteronomy 16:20

He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8

Set your mind on God's kingdom and his justice before everything else, and all the rest will come to you as well.
Matthew 6:33 (NEB)

Man is unjust, but God is just; and finally justice Triumphs.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 'Evangeline', in The Poetical Works of Longfellow, Oxford University Press, 1913, page

True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.
Martin Luther King, The Words of Martin Luther King, selected by Coretta Scott King, William Collins Sons & Co.,
1986, page 83

It is compassion rather than the principle of justice which can guard us against being unjust to our fellow men.
Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind, Seeker & Warburg, 1956, page 69

For no human actions ever were intended by the Maker of men to be guided by balances of expediency, but by balances of justice.
John Ruskin, Unto This Last, George Allen, 1906, page 7

The profound and thrilling vibration of justice, sense of ultimate justice makes the heart suddenly quiver with love.
D.H. Lawrence, 'Vibration of Justice', in Vivian de Sola Pinto and Warren Roberts, editors, The Complete Poems of D.H. Lawrence, William Heinemann, 1967, volume II, page 653
Is it not the fact that in problems concerning the relations of corporate groups of men, the way of love lies through justice?
William Temple, Citizen and Churchman, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1941, page 78

Believe nothing against another, but upon good authority; nor report what may hurt another, unless it be a greater hurt to others to conceal it.
William Penn, Fruits of Solitude, AW. Bennett, 1863, page 28

Now, if these men have defeated the law and outrun native punishment, though they can outstrip men they have no wings to fly from God.
William Shakespeare, King Henry V, IV. i. 170

Who shall put his finger on the work of justice, and say 'It is there'? Justice is like the Kingdom of God—it is not without us as a fact, it is within us as a great yearning.
George Eliot, Romola, Virtue & Co., 1908, volume II, page 396

Liberty, equality,—bad principles! The only true principle for humanity is justice, and justice towards the feeble becomes necessarily protection or kindness.
Henri Frederic Amiel, Amiel's Journal, translated by Mrs Humphry Ward, Macmillan & Co., 1918, page 96

While the Church exists to preach love, and the State to maintain justice, the Christian citizen draws on the inspiration of love to establish a closer approxima¬tion to real justice.
William Temple, Citizen and Churchman, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1941, page 80

Justice does not the less exist, because her laws are neglected... A sense of what she commands lives in our breasts; and when we fail to obey that sense, it is to weakness, not to virtue, that we yield.
Ann Radcliffe, The Italian, Oxford University Press, 1968, page 168

[ustice means much more than the sort of thing that goes on in law courts. It is the Md name for everything we should now call 'fairness'; it includes honesty, give and :ake, truthfulness, keeping promises, and all that side of life.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, William Collins Sons & Co., 1961, page 72

I am convinced that one reason why the Church has counted for comparatively little in the public affairs of recent times is that its spokesmen have talked a great deal too much about love and not nearly enough about justice.
William Temple, Citizen and Churchman, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1941, page 77

I am firmly convinced that the passionate will for justice and truth has done more to improve man's condition than calculating political shrewdness which in the long run only breeds general distrust.
Albert Einstein, Out of my Later Years, Thames and Hudson, 1950, page 10

In the corrupted currents of this world Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice; And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself Buys out the law, but 'tis not so above!
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, HI. ill. 57

... Jesus came to bring men justice. The Greeks defined justice as giving to God and to men that which is their due. Jesus showed men how to live in such a way that both God and men receive their proper place in our lives. He showed us how to behave both towards God and towards men.
William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, The Saint Andrew Press, 1975, volume II, page 37

Our hope for creative living in this world house that we have inherited lies in our ability to reestablish the moral ends of our lives in personal character and social justice. Without this spiritual and moral reawakening we shall destroy ourselves in the misuse of our own instruments.
Martin Luther King, The Words of Martin Luther King, selected by Coretta Scott King, William Collins Sons & Co.,
1986, page 58

Justice without might is helpless, might without justice is tyrannical. Justice without might is gainsaid, because there are always offenders; might without justice is condemned. We must then combine justice and might, and for this end make what is just strong, or what is strong, just.
Blaise Pascal, Pensees, translated by W.F. Trotter, Random House, 1941, page 103

The mistake of the best men through generation after generation, has been that great one of thinking to help the poor by almsgiving, and by preaching of patience, or of hope, and by every other means, emollient or consolatory, except the one thing which God orders for them, justice.
John Ruskin, Unto This Last, George Allen, 1906, page 72
It often falls in course of common life, That right long time is overborne of wrong, Through avarice, or power, or guile, or strife, That weakens her, and makes her party strong: But Justice though her doom she do prolong, Yet at the last will make her own cause right.
Edmund Spenser, "The Faerie Queene', Book Five, XI. i. 1, in The Works of Edmund Spenser, The Johns Hopkins
Press, 1936, page 125

In the struggle against injustice, the Christian suffers a serious handicap, which, at least in the short term, can reduce his effectiveness. He doesn't have the right, at any time, to walk over his adversary or destroy him. He doesn't have the right to 'sacrifice' one single person today (let alone a generation) to save a thousand tomorrow.
Michel Quoist, With Open Heart, translated by Colette Copeland, Gill and Macmillan, 1983, page 123

Justice. To be ever ready to admit that another person is something quite different from what we read when he is there, (or when we think about him). Or rather, to read in him that he is certainly something different, perhaps something completely different, from what we read in him. Every being cries out silently, to be read differently.
Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972, page 121

Justice is the right to the maximum of individual independence compatible with the same liberty for others;—in other words, it is respect for man, for the immature, the small, the feeble; it is the guarantee of those human collectivities, associations, states, nationalities—those voluntary or involuntary unions—the object of which is to increase the sum of happiness, and to satisfy the aspiration of the individual. That some should make use of others for their own purposes is an injury to justice.
Henri Frederic Amiel, Amiel's Journal, translated by Mrs Humphry Ward, Macmillan & Co., 1918, page 245

Justice is a virtue which, if it be not developed in youth, has little chance of ever being developed. It depends on a peculiarly sensitive reaction to good and evil, and it is only in youth that those reactions are keen and disinterested. Real justice is always a sign of great innocence; it cannot exist side by side with interested motives or a trace of self-seeking. And a sense of justice is hard to develop in this great industrial world where the relations of men are so out of joint and where such flaunting anomalies assail one at every turn.
Randolph Bourne, Youth and Life, Constable & Co., 1913, page 84

It is strange to see how completely justice is forgotten in the presence of great international struggles. Even the great majority of the spectators are no longer capable of judging except as their own personal tastes, dislikes, fears, desires, interests, or passions may dictate,—that is to say, their judgment is not a judgment at all. How many people are capable of delivering a fair verdict on the struggle now going on? Very few! This horror of equity, this antipathy to justice, this rage against a merciful neutrality, represents a kind of eruption of animal passion in man, a blind fierce passion, which is absurd enough to call itself a reason, whereas it is nothing but a force.
Henri Frederic Amiel, Amiel's Journal, translated by Mrs Humphry Ward, Macmillan & Co., 1918, page 178

1. Every child should find itself a member of a family housed with decency and dignity, so that it may grow up as a member of that basic community in a happy fellowship unspoilt by under feeding or over-crowding, by dirty and drab surround¬ings or by mechanical monotony of environment.
2. Every child should have the opportunity of an education till years of maturity, so planned as to allow for his peculiar aptitudes and make possible their full develop¬ment. This education should throughout be inspired by faith in God and find its focus in worship.
3. Every citizen should be secure in possession of such income as will enable him to maintain a home and bring up children in such conditions as are described in paragraph 1 above.
4. Every citizen should have a voice in the conduct of the business or industry which is carried on by means of his labour, and the satisfaction of knowing that his labour is directed to the well-being of the community.
5. Every citizen should have sufficient daily leisure, with two days of rest in seven, and, if an employee, an annual holiday with pay, to enable him to enjoy a full personal life with such interests and activities as his tasks and talents may direct.
6. Every citizen should have assured liberty in the forms of freedom of worship, of speech, of assembly, and of association for special purposes.
William Temple, Christianity and Social Order, Penguin Books, 1942, page 73


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