In previous articles, we’ve looked at different kinds of love such as conditional and unconditional love. In this article, we’re going to discuss the relationship between love and justice. Before we do this, let’s remind ourselves the definition of these two words. The oxford dictionary defines Love as this: A noun - “a very strong feeling of liking and caring for somebody/something, especially a member of your family or a friend”. And Justice in the same dictionary is defined as: A noun – “the fair treatment of people”. Already looking at the two definitions of these words, we can see how they begin to closely relate to one another. When we love someone or something, we automatically seek “the fair treatment of people” AKA justice.
We’ve seen what happens in the world when justice is carried out independent of care or love. Justice without love and care turns into the “unfair treatment of people” AKA injustice. Justice without love literally becomes the opposite of justice; justice without love turns into discrimination and inequity. In order to avoid this kind of treatment of others, we must turn to loving and caring for others. True justice, as the fair treatment of people, is naturally desired by everyone who has even an ounce of love in their hearts. Even though true justice is rarely seen in this world, we all desire it for ourselves and people we love in some way, shape or fashion. True justice cannot exist without love.
Love, surprisingly, requires justice to be seen. This one is not so clear to many people, as a lot of people don’t tend to think of justice and love as being two sides of the same coin – but they truly are. When we have love, without any desire for justice (fair treatment of people), this love is a false love and it more closely resembles apathy, or indifference. Many people tend to assume that “hatred” is the opposite of love – however, psychologists are beginning to define “indifference” as the opposite of love. Indifference defined by the oxford dictionary is this: An adjective – “a lack of interest, feeling or reaction towards somebody/something”. Love without desiring the “fair treatment of people” is indifference; It is a complete lack of interest for others and their treatment. True love cannot exist without justice.
Consider this for a moment: Your best friend is killed in a tragic car accident by a drunk driver swerving into the opposite lane just as your best friend drove by. By this person being your best friend, we can assume you love and care for this person. Since you are not an evil person, you don’t wish for the worst kind of treatment on the drunk driver, but your heart yearns for proper justice for their illegal and wrongful actions. We are all at the mercy of our state’s and country’s legal system – unfortunately (or maybe, fortunately) justice is rarely taken into our own hands – so we depend on the “justice system” to enact proper punishment for illegal/wrongful actions. One can completely forgive someone of their wrongdoing, and still desire proper justice for their ill actions. Demanding justice for people who are suffering, does not have to mean automatic hate or indifference towards the perpetrator. One can experience compassion AND a desire for justice to be seen in the perpetrator’s punishment. With that being said, the drunk driver is sentenced to mandatory rehab, the minimum sentence for driving drunk, and manslaughter. You sigh a big breath of relief, knowing justice was carried out. Moving forward, you hope for the sake of others, that the perpetrator doesn’t make this same mistake.
There is a common misconception that our justice system is either perfect, or completely irreparable. Truly, it’s neither. Our justice system in and of itself is actually quite indifferent. The care and love within the justice system comes from people: the juries, the judges, and the lawyers that must interpret the laws to provide “fair treatment of people”. However, our justice system is not so cruel as to give the death punishment to every criminal who walks through the door, but takes their intent, character, and past history with the law into account in order to produce proper punishment for their crime. Of course it is incredibly difficult to trust a system we didn’t create to produce true justice, and more often than not, true justice is not seen. However, without this system, we could not come close to truly satisfying that desire for justice within us, as we may act irrationally in our pain – whereas a judge and jury can see the situation without extreme bias and have the tools to enact fair treatment for both the victim(s) and the perpetrator(s).
Love and justice go hand in hand. Truly you cannot have one, without the other. People who are crying out for justice en masse, are doing so from a place of love and care for their fellow man. Who can blame them for wanting a “fair treatment of people”? Don’t we all want this? We must not solely depend on the justice system to provide this treatment to people. We are either treating others fairly, or unfairly, and this directly correlates with the amount of love, or indifference we may have for another. I strongly encourage all of us to turn to loving others, not just our close friends and family, but even strangers too. We enact our own little justice system in our minds every day, by deciding who is worthy of what kind of treatment, based on how we judge them. This is where discrimination and wrongful bias plays out in all of us on a daily basis. Consider love and justice, and how they play out in your daily life. Consider that everyone, regardless of who they are and where they come from, deserves “fair treatment” from someone who loves and cares. Let that treatment come from us, from an authentic love within. Keep on loving, as our light shines the brightest when we do!