Do You Yearn for a Just World?
A WOODEN sailing ship with three masts and two decks approaches the shores of what is now Cape Cod, Massachusetts, U.S.A. The crew and the 101 passengers aboard are exhausted from being at sea for 66 days. Seeking to escape religious persecution and economic hardship, they have made an arduous journey across the Atlantic Ocean.
As the passengers of this vessel, the Mayflower, sight land on November 11, 1620, their eyes glitter with the hope of a fresh start. Desiring to lay the groundwork for a better world, most of the ship’s adult male passengers sign the Mayflower Compact. In it they agree to enact “just and equal laws” for “the general good of the colony.” Has their dream of a world that is morally upright and fair to everyone—a just world—become a reality?
Even though the Compact signed aboard the Mayflower is considered one of the cornerstones of the American system of government, injustice is a common occurrence in America, even as it is around the world. For example, consider a man who was shot by police while he was trying to escape after robbing and shooting a store owner. He sued the police and the city of New York and won millions of dollars in settlement.
Consider another example. While law school students were taking the bar exam in Pasadena, California, one of them suffered a seizure and collapsed. Two nearby students readily administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation until the paramedics arrived. They spent 40 minutes helping the man. But when they requested compensatory time to complete the exam, the bar official turned them down.
There is also the matter of punishment for criminal activity. Economic analyst Ed Rubenstein points out: “Most crimes never result in an arrest. Many of those arrested aren’t prosecuted. Many convicts are paroled. Expected punishment, from the criminal’s viewpoint, is a probability, not a certainty.” Using the data for burglary, he concludes that a potential burglar “will escape imprisonment more than 98 percent of the time.” The low risk of punishment leads to more crime and crime victims.—Ecclesiastes 8:11.
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 or even to sustain themselves. According to The New York Times, for example, “nearly a quarter of a billion human beings in Hindu-dominated South Asia—most of them in India and Nepal—are born and die as untouchables.” The result is that millions are ravaged by poverty, hunger, and disease. Injustice spans their life from cradle to grave.
What of the seeming injustices that are beyond human control? Think of the babies born with congenital defects—blind, retarded, or deformed. Would not a woman feel a sense of injustice if her baby came forth crippled or dead while women nearby cuddled healthy infants?
Sadly, injustice abounds, and so do its consequences—immense suffering and the lack of peace, joy, and contentment. Outraged by the injustice they witness or experience, many have resorted to violence, only to add to human suffering. Most wars have been fought because of perceived injustice.
Why has man failed to bring about a just world? Is such a world just a dream?
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Signing of the Mayflower Compact