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In justice we stand

I feel like we don't all mean the same thing when we use the word "justice" anymore. I feel like this is the case with most of the words we use. Today is the age of noise, and every word rings hollow the more times it is sounded, and this is no l...

I feel like we don't all mean the same thing when we use the word "justice" anymore.

I feel like this is the case with most of the words we use. Today is the age of noise, and every word rings hollow the more times it is sounded, and this is no less true of justice than it is any other.

Justice is what the world seems wanting for these days. From every level of society, we see demands for it. Yet what does the demand yield? Those who hunger for justice are still starving. What even is justice? The sight of those whom you dislike brought low, made to suffer? Is it just to beat a man who beat a man? Is it just to rob the thief of freedom? To rob the killer of life? What is our society if we no longer have a shared moral compass? If we can no longer agree on what justice is or is not?

A society is defined by its codes of justice. Look to the extreme theocracies in foreign lands, where homosexuals are hurled from rooftops - look there upon their justice. Some nations have seen justice served in maintaining the strength and order of the state; others have served their gods and priests. More still have served laws often serving both masters, laws that might change with a capricious wind or the often swift replacement of a supreme leader.

My point is, the justice we adhere to in the United States is not some arbitrary thing. It is a system born of weighty thoughts and philosophies that are centuries old - if not much older. It is a system intended to quantify the weight of sin and deal out appropriate response, so that justice is served.

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I say appropriate response, because it is not so simple as to say "justice is when the guilty are punished." Justice is symbolized by scales, a symbol so old it predates Rome. Guilt and innocence are of differing weights, and the purpose of justice is to ensure that the balance of society is upheld. A society lacking justice cannot have prosperity.

Justice is in equilibrium. It is in this spirit that all aspects of our judicial system can and should be scrutinized. Why, even in our very state this notion is being pursued! Yet be it here or in Washington, with the Mueller investigation or in distant, dismal Chicago, where the wind cries murder and Jussie Smollett's charges are dropped like stones, there is no equilibrium. The scales of justice are tipped over. All the rules no longer apply.

In these times, innocence and guilt seem to be decided by political loyalties, affluence or both, instead of evidence or due process.

We the people hold responsibility, as much as do the withered adjudicators whose laughter over the excess and cruelty of our laws I've heard with my own ears, whose deafness to the screams of the condemned I've seen with my own eyes. We cannot drink of the chalice of cynicism which has poisoned our politics for decades - we cannot afford to lose sight of the importance of balance.

There is more to justice than the issuance of punishment. Our laws have become warped, our sense of justice perverted, and now those of power and affluence and the right connections no longer even need to see a day in court. We have ourselves to blame, standing by idly as justice discarded scales for sword. And we have ourselves to count upon to see the balance restored. Laws should be scrutinized. Practices analyzed. This is important - the rule of law is the only mortar that can serve to bind every disparate American together, from any background and any culture.

Our justice surpasses the old orders. It seeks to enshrine the rights of the people, even as it holds the power to strip them of those rights. We must respect that power, and we must shoulder that responsibility. We must hold our leaders and laws to true accounts. We must come together, united behind the true meaning of liberty ... and justice for all.

Opinion by Iain Woessner
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