One Man Versus Justice
by Christian Thomas Golden
“Life’s not fair!”
“That’s just not fair!”
“Why did you punch me in the face, when all I did was shake your hand?!”
Based upon common contemporary English usage, fairness appears to be the degree to which an act promotes the equilibrium of the whole of the acts to which that act is directly related. That is, punching someone in the face would be considered most fair if it was in direct response (and exactly equivalent in force) to the immediately preceding received punch in the face (of course, the returning punch must be directed at the first puncher).
Anything that pulls or pushes away from this equilibrium is guilty of some degree of unfairness.
Fair=good. Unfair=bad. No.
I do not believe that we always walk in the assumption that fair=good and unfair=bad.
Case in point: mercy and grace. If mercy is God deciding to withhold some negative that we would normally deserve, and grace is God providing some positive thing that we would normally not deserve, are mercy and grace fair?
So, we have some sort of scale which classifies acts from negatively unfair, to fair, to positively unfair.
Negative Unfairness —————-Fairness————————Mercy/Grace
An Unprovoked Punch————–A Return Punch——Withholding Return Punch
An Unprovoked Punch————–A Return Punch——Respond to Punch w/Gift
You see, negative unfairness is a byproduct of the corrosion of good. That is, negative unfairness is a form of evil (remember, evil is corroded good). Naturally, we believe that a good return punch would set things straight (eye for an eye, after all). Is that fair? Well, in terms of the balance of eye for an eye (our general contemporary definition of fairness), yes. However, what other word do we often equate with fairness?
Is justice the same as fairness?
I do not believe so.
Fairness does not consider what’s right (that is, fairness does not promote righteousness).
The whole concern of justice is to bring to right standing (that is, the purpose of justice is to promote and maintain the right standing of things – righteousness).
Mercy and Grace.
If I start with zero, subtract four, then subtract four again, do I then return to zero?
But if a man punches me in the face (subtracts four from our zero), wouldn’t I then be adding the four back when I punch him?
No. You are adding negative four. So, in terms of fairness, you’ve both added negative four. That’s fair. That is not just.
To bring the equation to justice, to make it right-standing, one must add four (or more if you so wish to bless the situation with such grace).
Ah, so we have a new scale (this time in relation to justice which is really a sort of continuum that looks like this:
So, we find that justice and fairness do not really go hand in hand. Where fairness merely promotes equality, justice promotes right-standing. Fairness can very well end up promoting quite an evil world. Justice, by its very nature, cannot.