The word justice, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is to possess just behavior or treatment or have the quality of being just (AskOxford. com). However, it can also mean the administration of the law or a certain authority based on the principles of just behavior and treatment (AskOxford. com). However, in some countries it can also pertain to a magistrate or a judge. But basically, it is a concept of morality that is mainly based on ethics, the law, fairness, rationality, and equality. As Aristotle said, “In justice is all virtues found in sum” (Wisdomquotes. com).
For me, it simply means a state of fairness and impartiality and giving people what is rightfully theirs. However, the word justice also has a lot of interpretations and definitions. As such, it has been the subject of discussion the debate in several fields of study or disciplines. At present, the fields of philosophy, law, and theology offers a various, and sometimes contrasting perspectives on justice. Basically, the most basic and common concept of justice is the state of being equal and fair.
In the modern context, for example, justice is upheld when a man who kills another person is convicted and sentenced to a life time in prison. Justice also happens when a young girl’s rapist is finally caught and placed behind bars. In the simplest sense, it can also mean giving back to a person what was stolen to him. Meaning to say, the term justice is often used in accordance with the law. It mainly pertains to a condition in which a person enjoys and is able to freely exercise his or her rights. This could mean being afforded with the basic needs such as food, water, shelter, and clothing, among others.
On the other hand, it can also pertain to the punishment of a person for abusing his or her rights and also in order to satisfy the wants of the other person whose rights were violated in the process. But as mentioned above, justice can also be interpreted in various ways. For example, during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on World Trade Center towers in New York, the Al-Qaeda, which was the group that claimed responsibility for her attacks, strongly claimed that what they did was simply doing justice to their kind or more specifically their religion.
Several Islamic extremists were also shown to be celebrating in various parts of the world as they claim that the United States simply got what they deserve and that, therefore, is justice. Meaning to say, even though the attacks resulted in the loss of thousands of lives, a group of individuals still considered it as an act of justice. It can then be surmised that religions also have contrasting views on justice. If Catholics oppose the taking of another person’s life, Islam, on the other hand, support it so long as the ends can are justifiable.
This can also be noted in the differences in justice systems across the world. For example, in countries such as United States, Singapore, Japan, and Vietnam, death penalty or capital punishment is a legal and accepted form of enforcing the law among criminal offenders. On the other hand, the Philippines, which is a pre-dominantly Catholic country, oppose it. In short, for countries that support death penalty, their concept of justice can mean taking what the criminal has taken away from another person.
For example, in pro-death penalty countries, a murderer will almost always be given the death penalty sentence if he or she is proven guilty. This mainly based on the principle that since the murderer took another person’s life, he or she must give his or her life in exchange because that would achieve justice. At the same time, this is also in accordance with the widely-believed notion that justice is simply giving people what they deserve. In contrast, those who oppose death penalty believe that killing a murderer will not bring the dead victim back to life and therefore, justice will not be attained.
And since the death penalty sentence would involve killing the convicted person, it not would be a form of justice because it would mean result in trauma and adverse effects on the relatives of the convicted person. Furthermore, in the context of everyday life, justice is often used in rationalizing acts of revenge. For example, if a man hits another person, it is only fair that that person hits him back. Likewise, if a girl is raped and murdered by a criminal, then it is only proper for the girl’s relatives, such as the father, to kill the person who violated her because that may be viewed as justice.
In society, it is only a form of justice when one works hard to achieve his or her dreams and becomes financially successful. However, for people who are poor, it is a form of injustice when the rich do not even seem to care about their impoverished welfare. Thus, for these people, the only way to attain justice is if the rich would equally share what they have with the poor, even though the latter do not deserve it. Furthermore, it is not clear where justice is applicable in certain situations. For example, a man on trial is acquitted from murder of a young boy due to lack of evidence.
In this case there are two dimensions: it is justice for the accused who may not have really been involved in the crime but is unfair for the family and the loved ones of the boy. Meaning to say, while boy deserves justice, he does not get it. In short, in principle, justice is a state of fairness, impartiality, and equality, among others. It basically means giving every person what they deserve. However, the idea of giving people what they deserve has resulted in ambiguous and blurry definitions of the term justice. As a result, while there are founding ideas and beliefs for the term, it is hard give an exact definition for justice.