Over the last week or so I’ve heard everyone from the pope on down to protestors in Ferguson, Missouri saying they want a more just society. That’s great. Here’s my question – what do you mean by that?
It’s really easy to be for a more just society. The challenge is defining what that actually means – in a very practical manner.
The problem, I think, is that there is not a common definition of what a more just society actually looks like.
How is someone supposed to get on board with supporting a more just society when no one is willing to paint a picture of what it is they actually mean?
Justice is one of those terms which sounds great. People can use it and feel good that they are standing on the truth and what is right without saying what they actually mean.
It’s like the term family values. Everyone has family values, even tyrants have family values, but I’m guessing a tyrant’s family values are significantly different from a lot of other people’s family values.
So by this time, you may be wondering what’s the deal with the picture at the top of the post. Did I put it there just to draw your attention to the post? No. There is actually a reason – I think it paints a picture of what a more just society looks like. Well, maybe a piece of the picture anyway.
In the picture you see some cows on some grass and it’s surrounded by a road. There’s an arrow offering direction and a pole on the middle of the grass mound. In the background you see trees.
Here’s where I see this picture as an analogy to what a more just society looks like. There are different looking cows – different colors in fact. Yet the cows don’t have an issue with different looking cows – that would just be stupid. Cows recognize each other as cows and are good with that.
The cows have what they need – grass to feed on. And I would guess that if these cows were real, they’d have enough grass for a good long time, but wouldn’t over do it on how much they ate.
There is a road that surrounds the grass which offers the cows some boundaries in their bovine life. Boundaries are important.
Along the boundary is a sign – it gives direction. Don’t we all need some direction sometimes?
There are trees in the background – nature. I don’t think the cows would do well without having some nature around them.
And then there’s this pole. It’s there, but I don’t think all the cows take great notice of it, but live their life knowing that it is there. They can’t go through it. It towers over them, but not in a way that the cows fear. The pole is steady – it’s always there. The cows may even rub up against it from time to time. And it doesn’t matter which color cow would do that. The pole doesn’t care which color cow rubs up against it. So what’s the pole? I’d say it is something that is the core of life. It’s there, always. It’s standing firm. People can ignore it if they want to, but even in ignoring it, it still affects their life, even if they don’t want to admit it. The pole is something that is common to all of us and to our experiences.
So is justice explicitly present in this little world that I laid out. Probably not in the traditional sense. There isn’t more law enforcement or rules. In fact, the cows could easily walk across the street if they wanted to. No one is really imposing much of anything on anyone else, yet the cows are living at peace with one another. No cow is getting up on a box to yell at the other cows to feel guilty for not supporting some cow cause or another.
All analogies break down of course. I get that. We’re not cows, we are people. And what I described is a fictional situation. But it’s what I would describe as a more just society.