The Belief in Justice Creates Injustice

If I have a terrible day I assume I will have a better day in the future. Oddly, anecdotal evidence supports this belief. After all if every day continued to get worse life would be unbearable.To some degree a belief in the fundamental fairness of life and the world is necessary for good mental health.

Most books, television shows and movies follow a pattern. There is a conflict. That conflict results in a grave injustice. That the injustice is discovered and resolved.This is not true of all books. The existentialist movement did not follow this pattern but generally that is how fiction works. The reason why is that it makes readers comfortable. It feeds into our inherent and fundamental belief in justice.

This belief in justice however may make justice harder to obtain. Couldn’t the belief that life is fundamentally fair lead people to conclude that they are rich because justice demands it and other’s are poor for the same reason? To some degree isn’t this belief a reasonable explanation to explain the most tragic parts of history? We justify genocide, slavery and war by dehumanizing others. It is easier to dehumanize others when people believe they are better than others. It could be argued if the world is inherently just and fair than these acts of evil must be justified because they were allowed to take place.

If we believe the world is inherently just and fair than we can be complacent. We do not need to fight for justice if we believe the world is already just. Thus, this mistaken belief in a just world leads to further injustice.

As a lawyer sometimes people will come in to my office charged with a crime. They safe and unconcerned because they did not commit that crime. Obviously, innocent people are not uncommon residents in the penitentiaries and jails of the United States. This injustice is made clear based on the newspapers that provide stories of innocent people being released after years in prison. If not for DNA testing or previously undiscovered evidence we might never know. Yet, it is not uncommon for people to have a firm belief in the illusory concept of justice. Jurors who believe life is fundamentally fair should be avoided. They tend to believe an innocent person would never be charged with a crime.

The belief in fundamental justice can also be racist. The vast majority of American millionaires and billionaires are Caucasian. Most of the ultra rich obtained their money from inheritance. If they are rich because justice demands it than justice much demand that poor people are poor for the same reason. The logical conclusion would be that Caucasians are more deserving of wealth.

The ugly truth is life can be and often is unfair. Justice is hard to get and comes at a price. I am not saying justice does not exist. I am just saying to obtain justice is a long and difficult fight and it is not an inherent gift. Martin Luther King said, “The arc of the moral universe Is long, but It bends toward justice.”. Perhaps he is right but we have a moral obligation to get off the sidelines and fight for justice in what ever small way we can.