It doesn’t seem to be a law of nature, but it is.
Justice is a hard virtue. Unlike, say, prudence, which is softer.
Justice requires that the good be rewarded and that every wrong be paid for.
Assume for purposes of discussion that there is a God, in the traditional western sense. Then also in the traditional western sense God must be not only just, but perfectly just. Every wrong paid for down to the penny, in other words.
Scary thought, isn’t it?
But we’re not God, and we’re not perfect. So consider this: for us in the fallen world, mercy comes at the expense of justice, and vice versa. We like mercy (for ourselves when we have wronged) and justice (for ourselves when we have been wronged). We’re not God – again – in more ways than one. Assuming there is such a thing.*
Someone was talking to me the other day about those who do not do their duty, but rather prefer comfort and ease. Is that a problem? If justice is a law of nature it certainly is, because if someone has it too easy then someone else must have it too hard, to the extent things are working at all.
I often point out that as much as I and other complain about this and that injustice and whatnot, it’s astonishing how much still goes right in our daily lives: air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, relative safety for most of us.
With the exception of the first, we should – in justice, that is – regularly stop to consider that these things do not happen by themselves. People – in most cases not us – perform tasks and work and make sacrifices so that these benefits come about. And then we should be grateful for and to those people. And then, if it seems that those people are not receiving their fair share and credit for the good they bring about for the benefit of others we should work ourselves to change that.
That’s an important job, too. Don’t you think?
It’s not socialism to work for justice, unless you forget that justice is a virtue that exists only because individuals practice it. The collective will be just only to the extent the individuals comprising it are likewise just. This is a hard truth, like justice itself. There are no shortcuts, there are no magical formulas, and anyone trying to sell you on something like that is a charlatan. Or a socialist.
Of course, all that aside if there’s no such thing as justice I’m just talking nonsense. But since just about everyone who has read this post knows exactly what I am talking about then it is not me talking nonsense, but rather those who say that there is no such thing as justice.
Which is not to say that we always know the just thing to do. We’re not God, after all. Assuming there is such a thing.
* This is a disclaimer we intend to use around here at Lawyers on Strike whenever the subject of God comes up, similar in function to the “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” meme from the Seinfeld days.