Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Understand justice; live a just life

The formal principle of justice says that in "whatever respects are relevant, persons equal in those respects should be treated equally"(1). But one can think of justice in many different ways:

* Retributive justice calls for punishment in response to actions that create an imbalance in the social order.

* Procedural justice focuses on "making and implementing decisions according to fair processes that [ideally] ensure "fair treatment.(2)"

* Distributive justice refers to a fair, equitable and appropriate distribution of resources, privileges, burdens, and responsibilities.

* Restorative justice focuses on "transforming wrongdoing by healing the harm, particularly to [interpersonal and community] relationships, that is created by harmful behavior"(3). This was the goal of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Consider these different goals of and methods of achieving justice. Which ones resonate with you? Do your life and lifestyle reflect your personal understanding of justice? What changes can you make to ensure that you live the values you hold? Remember, NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE.


Karama said...

Check out these links too:

* Universal Declaration of Human Rights at

* Georgia Justice Project - "We defend people accused of crimes and, win or lose, we stand with our clients as they rebuild their lives. We believe this is the only way to break the cycle of crime and poverty."

* Amnesty International is a "worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights. AI’s vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards."

* Heifer International - "Across the globe, Heifer donors, volunteers, staff and project partners strive daily to build communities, distribute resources fairly, improve access to education and preserve our environment."

* Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. HFHI seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world, and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.

Happy solstice!

Karama said...

A quick read of this blog will show that I'm really into restorative and distributive justice. I think society and humanity are best served when we focus on those goals. And in my experience, they offer the best chance to improve lives on a personal, community and world level.

Just my two cents. Your thoughts?

Steve said...

I think true justice starts with equality, what we make of it and how we try to enact it. Love your links, especially the Georgia one. Look forward to working with you in the coming legislative session next month.

Audacity said...

Yes! The Georgia Justice Project kicks ass. Another link I would add would be the Georgia Innocence Project, which aims to free wrongly convicted individuals through DNA testing.

Karama said...

Excellent link, Jenrae! Thank you for suggesting it. And thanks for visiting So what can I do. Please come back again soon and spread the word.

Alex said...

i'm definitely more in line with the distributive and restorative angles myself. thank you for writing about these things. it's so important to think about how we consider some of these basic concepts like justice, violence, etc. i think that in looking at our troubled societies around the world, it is important to remember how resilient and ammenable people are to change - in essence, how short our memories can be - when there is a strong emphasis on justice. the south african example is one that can remind us of this and give us hope, i think.

Karama said...

Alex: I agree that the South African example is a good one, a model in my mind. The key is to RESTORE the community or relationship. That may not always be possible, but it has to be the goal since otherwise there may be no justice at all. In most cases, certainly in this country, retributive 'justice' amounts to no justice at all. And that just won't do.

Thanks for visiting, Alex, and do come again.

Steve: You know I may take you up on it. My fiance interacts with the legistors as well and is always telling me about what's going on in the session. It would be nice to do some direct work there. Thanks for the suggestion!

Karama said...

Check here for Desmond Tutu's thoughts on "tsunami tragedy, God, Iraq and the re-election of George W. Bush." His is an interesting and useful perspective in that he is a black South African.

Karama said...

Check out Linnet's thoughts on justice.

Karama said...

For more on truth and reconciliation in the Southern US, see Southern Truth and Reconciliation.

Karama said...

Happy 90th Birthday, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela! Thank you!