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41 - Justice in Contemplation - Part 7: Justice

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

What does it mean to have a just society?

Is it about equal access to everything, for everyone?

Is it about equal opportunity?

What should be equalized, to create equality, and what remains distinct to our own specific path and purpose?

I think it’s easy to see that equality isn’t the fair distribution of resources. We can clearly see from history that resources can be equally shared under the rule of an oppressive government. People can all have the guarantee of equal access to basic needs, and still not have the basic freedoms inherent to all human beings. No matter how good any system may be in attempting to create material equality and social autonomy, there will always be disparities and differences.

Uniformity doesn't equal a just society.

A just society is about the freedom for each individual to pursue their own path, purpose, and prosperity as they choose. Governments and social systems are meant to guarantee an equal playing field, not the equal outcome of the game.

I lived in Australia for two years as a kid, where my parents were missionaries in the port town of Mackay, Queensland. While there we saw a movie based on the true-life story of an Australian race horse named Phar Lap. Phar Lap was one of the most winning horses of his time. When he died in 1932, he was ranked third in the world for his stake winnings.

In the movie, as Phar Lap grew in fame and success, the other owners and competitors in horse racing began to get disgruntled and cry foul. They didn’t like how much Phar Lap was winning. Because he so dominated the racing scene of his time, the owners got together and conspired with the racing commission to try and level the outcome of the races in their favor. They began requiring that Phar Lap race with weights, to slow him down. But he kept winning. So, they added more weights. And he kept winning. In the end the movie portrays Phar Laps demise as a result of the stress created by his spirit to win despite the unfair restrains placed upon him. He just kept pushing himself, and winning, no matter how much they tried to slow him down.

In real life, no one is sure why he died. But the story reveals how equality is not meant to go. It’s not meant to oppress and constrain anyone from succeeding, but to provide equal opportunity for everyone to pursue their own path, and be as successful as they can within their own distinct and unique circumstances.

Sometimes we get equality wrong, and miss the purpose and point of a just society. It’s not unjust for someone else to have more stuff than me, or more success in their desired field or path in life. It’s unjust for some to have greater freedom in pursuing their path than others.

Equality is about personal freedom, not individual outcomes.

Each of us has been born into a situation unique to ourselves. We are all born with unique abilities and opportunities which will equal different degrees of social and economic power. It’s not the power we have, but how we use the power we have that matters. How we use our power can either help create equality, or fuel oppression.

We must realize the power we have, then we must use it in the right way. Oppression and the misuse of power comes in two ways. The first is when we use our power for our own benefit, the second is when we take power that does not belong to us.

We all have abilities and influence. We must recognize and work within what we have, and not pine or pursue power that is not intended for us. We must learn to speak to our own room. Learn to be faithful and fruitful where you are. Learn to use what you have, and do good with what you have for those around you. Good actions and a good heart will grow good things for you.

We can lose even the power we have when we care more about our power than the purpose of our power.

Your power is not for you.

It is for you to empower others.

If you are truly other focused, it shouldn’t matter what benefit your power brings you.

We will abuse our power when we begin to use it for ourselves. Whether intended or not, using our power, abilities, influence, position, and circumstances only for our own good will end up doing harm. We cannot split the benefit of our power between us and others. You cannot balance selfishness and selflessness. Your power is not meant for you. It is not meant for you to use for yourself. It is meant to be a giving flow. Love is always about the other.

True justice comes when we understand the purpose for which we were created, and the reason we have been empowered to move and act in the world. We were made for community, to be about the other. All we have been given is meant to be given to others. Only as we learn to empower others do we begin to participate as individuals in a just society, doing our part to ensure that it remains just, fair, and free for all. Every time we abuse our own power, and use it selfishly, we feed injustice.

Contemplation points us to ourselves, and the work we must do there, in order to get to the work we are meant to do in the world at large. Contemplation points to the problems at work in the world at large by pointing us to ourselves. The micro is always a reflection of the macro. We cannot hope to address the inequality, injustice, and oppression in the world if we have not dealt with the ways we are compliant with it in ourselves.

Contemplation seeks to first point us to our relationship with power itself, in order to unmask the underlying issues of injustice and oppression in the world. The world, after all, is made up of you and me. We are a part. The greatest work we have to do is in making our part more healthy. As we become healthy, and begin to learn how to step out of the power-over systems in our world, we will naturally begin to point others to the same path and process, and so become champions of justice and freedom just by naturally cultivating those things in our lives first.

When you know who you are, and are grounded in yourself in good and healthy ways, then you know what you are meant to do and be in the world.

That is the essence of Contemplation; that is, to help ground us in our true self in the proper way. Justice, freedom, and equality all stem from a collective made up of individuals who know how to be themselves. When you know who you are, and are truly free to be who you are, then you become a part of the larger freedom for others.

When we all know how to do this, there will be no oppression and injustice in the world.

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