Archive for November, 2014


Plato’s Republic (written around 380 BC) begins with a series of conversations about the meaning of Justice. These conversations are between Socrates and the men of Athens. Socrates asks, what is justice? And several men offer their responses to him: one says that justice is honesty, another says that justice is the art of giving good to friends and harming enemies. A third man says that “Justice is in the interest of the stronger,” and a very potent conversation ensues after that.

This third man deems himself to be quite “sophisticated” and his argument implies that there is really no such thing as justice at all. Rather, this third man argues that justice is something that is created by those who are the most powerful in any given society, for the purpose of benefiting them.

Socrates pokes holes in this argument but one wonders: Does justice really exist in our world or is it merely a concept that is created by the strong?

The events in Ferguson MO seem to fortify this third man’s argument. I have no question in my mind that had officer Wilson been black and Michael Brown been white, that a grand jury would have been able to deliver an indictment. I have no question about that.

But does that make this third man right?

On my way home from New Jersey to Cleveland today my car spun out of control in the Pennsylvania Mountains and it (and I) fell into a ditch off of the side of the road. I was driving on an un-plowed stretch of I-80. I immediately called 911 and within minutes Pennsylvania State Trooper, Mark Ruscavage, came to my rescue. I felt so safe when he arrived – he asked me if I was hurt, he called me a tow..

And then he wrote my a ticket for $128.00 for reckless driving. No mind that it was a nor’easter, that my car has 2-wheel drive or that I had been driving 35 miles-per-hour with my hazard lights on. No mind that he hadn’t even been there to witness my driving, or that I was a single young woman stuck in a ditch on the side of a snowy mountain on the day before thanksgiving.

I cried.

I hadn’t cried up until that point. But receiving a ticket while stuck in a ditch was horrifying to me. It was just so..


And you see that’s the thing of it! We all know when an injustice has occurred. Even small children, they know when something is not fair. So if injustice exists, then justice – it’s opposite – must also exist!! It’s not just something that is created by the strong – it’s bigger than that.

And that is Socrates’point. Justice may not be easily defined and we may not always see it administered in the societies in which we live. But it does exist. So it is worthwhile, therefor, to practice being just individuals. To pursue justice as a virtue in our daily lives.

As officer Ruscavage left me sitting in the ditch with my ticket, I did the only thing I could do which was to look him directly in the eye and tell him that what he had just done will come back to him. Because I wholeheartedly believe that it will.

What we put out always comes back.

So be just.


Read Full Post »