Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The diversity and complexity of justice

What is justice and why is it important to understand it correctly?

Yung Suk Kim

Justice derives from the concept of fairness. We all want fairness in our lives, personally, communally, and globally. Different schools have different ideas about justice, but I won't deal with those here. As a critical biblical scholar specializing in the New Testament, I come up with the following aspects of justice in our world. As seen below, justice is a term to be understood from the perspective of both diversity and complexity.

1. Theodicy (justice of God)
So to speak, when bad things happen to good people, we all ask, Where is God? Is God fair or just? We still don't know the full answer about this. Job's unspeakable suffering defies any easy answer to the reason why he suffers. The sheer truth is that the reality of darkness and evil never dies out, affecting many lives and communities, locally and globally. Otherwise, we cannot give "immature" counsel to the victim or the suffering one, saying that everything will go right or that there will be a big reward for the patience shown. Or, some say that God disciplines the person through suffering. But this idea is also absurd because God is not such a mean God who torments an innocent person.

2. Attributive justice
Under the normal circumstances, we expect that the more we work, the more we get. Each person needs his or her fair due according to the poured-out work.

3. Retributive justice 
The wrongdoers are to be brought to justice and evil must be checked. Punishment is not the goal of the retributive justice but a means of corrections. There must be also a process of restoration or healing that involves related parties, including all society.

4. Distributive justice (economic justice)
Members of society need the fair share of the income distribution. They all need works to do, expecting a decent income. They all need equal opportunity to work.

5. Social justice
Economic justice is part of this category of social justice, which deals with other social issues such as racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and xenophobia. All are to be treated equally regardless of race, religion, gender, class, sexual orientation, or any other determinants.

6. Restorative justice
Not all people can work properly equally because some of them may be in a position to not work because of their physical or emotional sickness or other preventing conditions. In this situation, they need help from society so that they may fully participate in society after recovery.

7. Procedural justice
Some point out the importance of fairness in the process of decision-making in human business. To expect a fair result of something, we need to make sure about the "fair" procedure.

8. Eco-justice
Ecological justice is also a matter of our concern these days because we depend on climate and environment. The question is, How can we be fair to nature? How can we include animals in this regard?

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