Youth Voices

Justice: A Myth or Reality?

By Yamna Baig

Pakistanis Cry for Justice

I saw eight polio workers shot dead in 48 hours for they were serving humanity, heard the cries of a Christian girl being raped in Farooqabaad by a Muslim land owner and a 15-year-old girl being brutally murdered by her father in the name of honor-killing.

I felt the tears of those two million children who are being exploited in the commercial sex industry and I tremble when I see 86% of the world’s food being consumed by 20% of the people in developed nations.

But there I stand, numb and motionless, shattered and devasted. The shrieks echoed in my ears and I shouted as Thomas jefferson once said

“I tremble for my country when I reflect that
God is just; that His justice cannot sleep 
forever.”

John Rawl claims that iustice is the first virtue of social institution as Truth is of system of thought. Tracing back our concepts of justice to The Greeks, we find it considered synonymous to Truth, Equality and the Rule Of Law.

During the imprisonment of Socrates before his death, his friends offered him a chance to escape. But he refused by personifying his views on justice, saying that the laws of Athens have protected him throughout his life, now he can not disobey them even if it costs his life.

Plato on the other hand used a Greek word Dikaisyne for justice which comes very near to morality and righteousness. To him it is a manuscript which exists in two copies and hence one is larger than the other. It exists in an individual and in a society. In “Republic” by Plato, a character Thrasymachus argues that it is something which is embedded in the ‘interest of the strong’. It is merely a name for what powerful imposes on the people.

Looking around, we see a same situation being prevalent in our society. Some whimpers of the protest are generally ignored an we have not gone an iota ahead of the classical definition of justice. But then why is it that we claim we have progressed? Are those at the margins of the society going to dream for justice forever? Is there no concept of it for those who need it the most? A legal maxim, “justice delayed is justice denied” requires that the legal redress should be timely. But who is going to define it, the roots of which are embedded in righteousness, truth and piety.

In this world of divided races, ethnicities, cultures, religions, castes and sects, a unanimously agreed concept of justice seems vague. What is justice for me may not be justice for him, what I regard as morally good is regarded as an act of deviance by others and what is permissible in my cultural norms is prohibited in their set of beliefs. Martin Luther in his letter from Birmingham Jail stated:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Starting from the French-German enmity that became popular with Franco Prusian war to the war going on in the name of Peace nowadays. Everyone claims to be just and right in accordance with one’s own perception without cutting the Gordian Knot.

Justice for Hitler was the massacre of Jews and for Jews was the end of the despotic rule.

Justice For US is the war in the name of peace and for the rest it was 9/11.

For the rest of the people, justice is KGOTLA and PANCHAYAT traditions and for him it is United Nations.

For him, Justce is honour killing and for me it is freedom of expression.

Justice for me is an eye for an eye and for you justice is Rehabilitation.

Now who is going to appease a crowd raising slogans, a wrinkled back needing a support, a sister waiting for her lost brother at the doorsteps, and a little child mourning the death of his family?
‘The Justitia’ outside the Supreme Court of Canada, the statue of ‘Lady justice’ depicted as Themis above the old Supreme Court building in Hong Kong and so on, stresses and questions, “Are these statues reducing the concept of justice to its symbolic representation with no practicality and is it’s concept going to vary from person to person?”

A situation of chaos, catharsis and confusion has enveloped us and we are jumbling up merely with words, getting nowhere but in darker alleys of despair and disappointment where the cries of oppressed echoes and questions us, “Is justice a myth or reality?