Justice is long and arduous

The road to justice is a long and arduous one but what makes it so? Individuals are different in terms of their opportunities, physical and mental capabilities, financial and social statuses, and by other criteria. At the same time, most people live in societies and norms regulating interactions and behaviours in society are developed. Historically, these norms were often beneficial for the few privileged members of a society, while other people experienced mistreatment and violations. This is where the concept of justice came in.

Philosophers were looking for a form of rule, or for a social organisation that would embrace and satisfy the interests of all members of a society. It may seem paradoxical, but even now the concept and the understanding of justice is debated. Dictionary definitions include justice being synonymous to concepts such as righteousness, lawfulness, and equality. As an ethical category, justice can be defined as a principle of fairness, according to which similar cases should be treated alike, and a punishment should be proportionate to the offense; the same refers to rewards for achievements.

Justice is an ambiguous term and there may be times when the law may be strict and unfair or may not accommodate to the exception. It may not cater to the human emotions involved and the “legal” justice may appear to be very lopsided to the ordinary viewer. Personal justice, also known as a conscious, occurs when a person has an emotional response to their actions as a product of a person’s upbringing and their learned ethics.

An individual’s view of personal justice is usually similar to the justice of the society a person was raised in,but as a person matures and experiences life and other cultures their personal ideals of justice usually change. For example, most children are brought up thinking that stealing is wrong because the society they grew up in feels that stealing is wrong. Thus, the personal justice for that person is that thieves should be punished. However, in growing up a person may see that certain corporations have unethical business practices and they may then feel justified to steal from them to hinder that company’s growth. Personal justice conforms to a person’s own ethics.

Everyone is different and thus making justice clumsy and hard to work with on an individual scale, but personal justice will always adhere to a person’s own beliefs because they are part of a person’s beliefs. Justice in its legal aspect can be defined as acting according to the ideal of fair-doing recognized in a particular society, and treating a person or their doings in accordance to this ideal and state laws. At the same time, justice, law, and norms are not equivalent; for example, a punishment for a crime judged fairly according to the existing laws does not necessarily look fair in the eyes of public, as it was in Anders Breivik’s case.

Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist who killed 77 people in July, 2011, was sentenced to 21 years of imprisonment (The New York Times), which seems unfair to the scale of the crime he committed. Then again, justice is usually influenced by the dominant religion and/or governmental group and the major problem with justice is that it lets the majority to create the terms of justice and the ethics of the minorities will usually be treated as less important, or completely ignored.

This can be seen in many countries with controversial issues. Euthanasia is a good example. The majority may think it euthanasia is wrong and pass laws punishing those who assist others in suicide. These laws are viewed as ethically correct to the masses, however for the few who think that euthanasia is an acceptable practice, they are now considered wrong. Thus, the road to justice is made difficult due to different views and the need to satisfy them all. Justice is a concept that can be understood in different ways. The ambiguity of the word justice makes achieving it difficult.

What may be felt as justice for one party may be the opposite for another. The concept of justice continues to be elusive primarily because it belongs to both morality and law and at times the two may clash. Therefore the road to justice is hard because everyone is different, making justice hard to work with on an individual scale. In this world, you are exposed to a variety of beliefs and holds some kind of prejudice or bias whether you realise it or not. When handing down justice it is hard to filter out these thoughts and make them not affect the final judgement.