Justice for All—Will It Ever Come?
VISITORS to London’s historic Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court building, see on top a statue of a woman who symbolizes justice. In one hand, she holds a pair of scales, indicating that evidence will be weighed carefully. Her other hand grips a sword, to protect the innocent and to punish the guilty. In many other locations, you can see versions of this symbol, sometimes with “Justice” blindfolded to represent her impartiality.*
You might ask, though: ‘Does what she symbolizes, justice for all, truly exist in any land?’ In every land, of course, there are laws, as well as those who enforce them. And then there are judges and courts. Certainly, many principled men have tried to uphold human rights and to see that there is equal justice for all. Still, it is obvious that most of their efforts have failed. Almost daily, we see, hear, or read of corruption, inequities, and injustice.
Consider the example of one woman who was brought to court. Before her guilt or innocence was proved, the judge let her know that he would “take care” of the charge against her if she would meet him at a motel, evidently for an illicit relationship. Yes, those who are supposed to ensure justice have often proved to be corrupt or incompetent. Time magazine told of one state in the United States where three fifths of the high-court justices were accused of unethical conduct in aiding a fellow judge.
Moreover, when people learn of criminals who keep escaping punishment, many become quite cynical and find it easier to break the law themselves. (Ecclesiastes 8:11) Of the Netherlands we read: “Many of the Dutch blame politicians for encouraging permissiveness that engenders crime. Others accuse the courts, specifically judges . . . who continue to hand out minimal, sometimes absurdly lenient, sentences.” But our desperate need for justice includes more than correcting the law-enforcement agencies and the judicial system.
You know that in many lands a rich minority keeps getting richer, while the poor masses face economic injustice. Such injustice prevails when people, because of their skin color, ethnic background, language, sex, or religion, have little opportunity to better their condition, even to sustain themselves. The result is that millions are ravaged by poverty, hunger, and disease. While many people in wealthy lands benefit from advanced medical procedures, untold millions suffer and die because they cannot afford basic medicines or even clean water. Talk to them about justice! Theirs is cradle-to-grave injustice.—Ecclesiastes 8:9.
And what of the seeming injustices that appear beyond human control? Think of the babies born with congenital defects—blind, retarded, or deformed? Would a woman feel a sense of justice if her baby came forth crippled or dead, while other women nearby cuddled healthy infants? As the following discussion will show, such apparent injustices will be corrected.
However, at this point in time, do you not agree with the comment at Ecclesiastes 1:15? There a wise and experienced king admitted, from a human viewpoint: “That which is made crooked cannot be made straight, and that which is wanting cannot possibly be counted.”
An even more famous man was Jesus Christ. At Luke 18:1-5 we read his illustration of a judge “that had no fear of God and had no respect for man.” Well, a widow kept pleading with that judge for the justice that the law entitled her to. But Jesus said that the wicked judge aided her only because her pleading became a nuisance. So Jesus, you can tell, was aware that injustices abounded. In fact, he himself was later tortured and executed on a trumped-up charge, another gross miscarriage of justice!
Many believe that there is a God who is concerned about injustice. During a Mass in one Central American land, Pope John Paul II said: “When you trample a man, when you violate his rights, when you commit flagrant injustices against him, when you submit him to torture, break in and kidnap him or violate his right to life, you commit a crime and a great offense against God.” Fine words. Yet, injustices continue. Malnutrition in that country afflicts 8 out of 10 children under five years of age. Two percent of the people own 80 percent of the cultivable land.
So is there really a God who genuinely cares about such horrible injustices, a God who will even be concerned about the injustices that affect you? Will he ever see that justice comes?
Our cover photograph is from the Justitia Fountain in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The statue on this page is on a municipal building in Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.