Just How Blind Is Justice?

The conventional interpretation of “Justice is blind” is that the legal system is impartial. But there is another interpretation that, to me, is far more significant. A brief survey of the human condition illustrates this deeper meaning.

A few hundred years ago, we were burning people at the stake for being witches. Today, the laws of the land can change radically, depending upon who gets to appoint the Supreme Court Justices. Laws change as we move from one nation to another. Women aren’t allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and weren’t even allowed to vote in America until about a hundred years ago. Just a quick glance makes it clear that justice truly is blind.

Of course, if there is one thing we all seem to have in common: we believe that our culture or subculture has finally gotten it right. Our own personal, provincial, or social perspective looks at all the other perspectives in wonder. How could people possibly think the way they do?

At the same time, this is not a plea for anarchy. The abolition of the judicial system is no solution. Throwing up our hands and allowing people to run wild would just bring an undermining chaos to humanity. Perhaps humility in our administration of justice is the best solution. We have no choice but to do our best when making judgment calls.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an infinitely wise leader who could give us the proper set of laws with which to judge? Of course, no such individual exists. Attempts to interpret laws from a supreme being, etched in stone, that have been passed down through the ages are subject to a wide range of interpretation.

We are praising the judicial system here, not condemning it. But how can that be so? It takes an incredible amount of courage to attempt to fathom such a perplexing situation. How in the world can we enact a set of laws that we can believe in to the very heart of our being? How can we impose a law in which we do not have that level of faith? How can we abuse these laws in an attempt to perpetuate our own personal needs and biases? Where can we find noble people willing to attempt to take on such a formidable task? And, to what degree has the system been infested with bias, prejudice, and narrow vision? Does self-righteousness inevitably overshadow the necessary humility?

In the past, noble people have existed, as they still do today. The health of our society relies on our ability to find them and incorporate them into the judicial system. Yet, how do we do that? Perhaps the answer lies in inspiring more people to be introspective. Instead of clinging to a political, religious, or social viewpoint and finding people who share the same viewpoint, we would do better to strive to identify people not only of knowledge and expertise, but also of wisdom and humility. As we identify these wise and noble people and put them in positions where they can consider difficult questions, they can help point us in a direction of more insightful justice. Over time, our society as a whole can move towards clearer vision, integrity, and health.

Michael Mamas is the founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the betterment of humanity through the integration of ancient spiritual wisdom with modern rational thought. Michael Mamas helps individuals and organizations develop a deeper understanding and more comprehensive outlook by providing a ‘bridge’ between the abstract and concrete, the Eastern and Western, and the ancient and modern. Dr. Mamas writes on a variety of subjects on his blog, MichaelMamas.net. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.

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