by Adonis Fernandez
If our having a better world requires being governed by a certain ideal, then the best ideal should be justice—not charity, faith, hope, kindness, compassion, patience, or any other virtue. Each individual should revere justice as the highest virtue that will guide his beliefs, mindset, and aspiration. This should be also the guiding principle of our social institutions like the family, churches, schools, and political societies in founding their rules, laws, and procedures. Thus, to hope for a better world is to aim for a world of justice—a well-ordered society that is grounded ultimately on the ideal of justice.
We are currently living in a world where many people prioritize personal glory and importance (self-aggrandizement) over virtues. This is the same situation that Plato had battled against in Ancient Athens; a situation that Plato addressed by introducing a society in which justice reigned supreme.
What does a world of justice require from us? Reform. It highly requires from us the need to reform four crucial features of our being individuals and as members of social institutions: 1) our mindset about the importance and necessity of justice; 2) the laws/rules and processes that guide the activities of our social institutions; 3) the leadership that promotes justice in our social institutions; 4) as it is in our political society, institutions that implement and guarantee the administration of the justice system.
What does reforming our mindset entail? It entails that each person, in his/her being an individual and as member of social institutions, must have a mindset that surely knows that justice is the highest ideal, and, as such, his/her thoughts and actions should be guided by what may be qualified as “just actions” (i.e. adhering and implementing fair and agreed rules, principles, laws, and agreements). Thus, all other ideals such as charity, kindness, compassion, honesty, faith, and hope should all contribute to prioritizing justice. And that the other ideals must be pursued only if they do not compromise justice.
Reforming our mindset entails that, within the family, parents teach their children primarily how to be just, and, secondarily, how to be honest, kind, generous, charitable, compassionate, et al. Moreover, it means that parents and children reciprocally treat one another primarily with justice, and, secondarily, with love, honesty, kindness, generosity, compassion, et al. Hence, all must primarily become just members of the family.
It also entails that–to those who are members of the church–the church must preach justice as the highest virtue that God has endowed man. And that generosity, kindness, charity, compassion, et al are all grounded on the virtue of justice. Moreover, it means that both the church officials/ministers and church believers both practice justice, and all other virtues (for as long as they do not conflict with justice). Hence, each member must primarily become just believers of God.
Furthermore, it entails that within the school community, teachers should teach their students information/knowledge and such information should, in ways possible, redound to promoting the students’ being just. Also, as it may be applicable, teachers should pay recognition to students who excel in promoting or doing just actions—and not only the common way of recognizing the most intelligent, most loyal, most honest, most industrious, or most respectful. Hence, each member of the school must primarily become just.
What does reforming the laws/rules and processes that guide the activities of our social institutions entail? It entails that the laws/rules and processes of our social institutions of family, church, school, and political society must be just and be implemented justly to each member of social institutions. Hence, in each institution, there must be just laws/rules and processes.
What does reforming leadership entail? Since the leader is a crucial part of any institution, it must be assured that the leader of each institution promotes justice, and that he/she implements just actions to each member of the institution. Hence, the leader must be a person of justice.
What does reforming institutions that implement and guarantee the administration of the justice system entail? It entails that, within the political institution, there must be agencies or departments/bureaus that are directly tasked to promote or implement the administration of justice within the entire political institution.
If this reform of the four crucial features of our being individuals and as members of social institutions is worked out integrally (i.e. individuals and the social institution of the family, church, school, political society, and all other social institutions work together to promote and implement the ideal of justice) then making justice as our highest ideal for the attainment of a better world is conceivable in the near future.
Perhaps, we would no longer need heroes who would give us consolation, strength, and inspiration if justice governs our world. For, we ourselves deserve to be called heroes by our commitment to be just persons and as just members of the social institutions to which we belong.
If justice governs our world, our aim of making a peaceful world would perhaps become more realistically achievable. And that Ron Artest need not change his name to “Meta World Peace” to advocate peace works.
Perhaps, a world of justice would narrow the gap between the rich and the poor in every country. It would give also better consolation and confidence to the poor members of our society.
Perhaps, we (as Filipinos) no longer need to leave the country if the ideal of justice is given priority and is practiced by our leaders and more importantly, by us, as citizens.
Perhaps, a world of justice could be our precious gift to the next generation—of our children, and of our children’s children.
Perhaps, a world of justice is worth giving a chance…
Adonis Fernandez is a member of Phi Kappa Phi International Honor Society and Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society. His research interests are on social justice, law, and development. He immigrated recently to Winnipeg, Manitoba, from the Philippines.
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