Questioning Justice

Food for Thought

In my younger years, I advocated fiercely for justice. Whenever I perceived an injustice, I wouldn’t rest until the perpetrator acknowledged their wrongdoing. My deep commitment to justice even led me to risk—and sometimes lose—jobs and friendships. Many friends thought I was emotionally blind, but I simply prioritized justice over feelings. I even believed that emotions were the primary cause of injustice. I reasoned that if everyone operated solely on logic, the world would be a more just place.

The individuals who frustrated me the most were those who would concede in an argument, not because they agreed, but to disengage. Their dismissive tone gave them away: “Yeah, you’re right.”

Yet, there were also those who genuinely seemed disinterested in debating justice. They would sincerely accept my accusations and apologize, even when they had substantial ground to stand on. Such individuals appeared more mature than I was.

Ultimately, justice is a system of compromise. While we use logic to distinguish right from wrong, living an entirely logical life is impossible. If all of us thought purely rationally, we’d all have the same opinions, values, preferences, and lifestyles—because logic consistently yields the same answer. We’d be akin to the Clones in Star Wars: conflict-free, orderly, and efficient. This might seem like the epitome of justice, but it’s a double-edged sword. Firstly, it’s an impossible ideal, and secondly, it’s not one we’d truly wish even if it were possible. Contradiction is an ideal state for us to live in.

Humans are inherently irrational, yet we possess the ability to reason. This contradiction within us allows us to maintain the right level of order, which may be why some people appear disinterested in justice. Here, I mean “disinterested,” not “uninterested.” Much like an artist might view a naked body without a sexual lens (”disinterested gaze”), these individuals can witness injustice without becoming personally attached.

I can relate to that a little when I watch the current conflict between Israel and Palestine. Where could the pursuit of justice lead but a total annihilation on both sides?