I’ve been thinking about this a lot today, especially after reading this news article. Do we want justice, or do we want peace?
I can hear the answer already… we want both. Right? Of course we want both. We deserve both! You can’t have one without the other. Etc.
But what is justice? Sometimes it’s easy enough to spot the just answer. A person steals your car they should replace your car. A person defaces your fence with spray paint? They should repaint it.
A person kills your spouse? That’s when it starts getting murky. Is justice to lock them away? Is it justice to kill them too?
In the middle east there is constant fighting and killing because one party feels wronged by another and they want JUSTICE! There can be no peace without justice.
After WWII there were a great many people who had to decide what justice was in that situation. They had peace. They signed a treaty and gave up the war. But what about payment for all the lives lost? The suffering? Who’s fault was it and who was going to pay? The German army alone contained about 10 million people. Then there was Stalin, and all the things he did to his people. And captains of the guard, and various people who just turned over the Jews. Who was to blame? The person who started it? Those who went along with it? The ones who made the orders and threatened to kill them if they didn’t go along with it?
In the end they tried 24 men for the millions of lives lost. Was this justice? That all the others who had anything to do with the war, or killing, just went home and went back to their lives?
The alternative was worse.
Maybe there can’t be true peace without justice, but sometimes justice might not look like justice to the casual observer.
If someone starts spreading rumors about you that you are a mean and horrible person, and then you start acting like a mean and horrible person to that person because the rumors then you are proving them right. In the case of the original article, ISIS spreads the story that Jordan, and others, are terrifying people who kill their prisoners. And now Jordan did kill their prisoners. ISIS now can say “See, look, we are right. It is as we said.”
I don’t know the answer. I like to think education, and humanitarian aid would help. Teaching them to help themselves, and bringing them up out of the isolationism imposed on them into the global world. But I don’t know.
What I do know: As long as the eye for an eye mentality keeps going there can be no peace. “Justice” for the wrongs you perceive on this massive scale sometimes have to be let go of in order to go on with the process of healing.