Monday, April 21, 2008
I read a line the other day in Black Like Me that encapsulates the resident feeling we often harbor toward our fellow men: "How can you render the duties of justice to men when you're afraid they will be so unaware of justice they may destroy you?" That very reasoning lurks behind much of our regret and guilt. How often have we wanted to pull over and help that person stranded on the side of the road, but stopped short because we were afraid of what might happen if we did so? That "helpless" person, after all, could be a mass-murderer or a rapist, someone who will take advantage of our kindness. And so we deny kindness. And so we deny justice. We fear to provide that which is just because we fear. We fear that others do not have the same sense of justice, living by a divergent set of morals and beliefs. And so they cannot be trusted to do what in our minds is truly just. They cannot be trusted to live by our standard of the golden rule. And so we deny justice. Sadly, perhaps; regretfully, perhaps; but the truth remains. Is there, perhaps some bifurcation going on here? Is it truly either-or, or are there more options to be had? I am simply wondering, because I too face this dilemma. I have many times shoved aside my feelings of justice, allowing fear to fill that vacancy. And, I believe that it is a valid fear, a fear that is daily validated by the media and others' actions. However, I have begun to doubt that there are only 2 reactions to these situations. But I don't know where to go with what I think may be a false dilemma.