When God is just

FROM FAR AND NEAR - Ruben Almendras - The Freeman

There are many people who have stopped reading or listening to the news as advised by their doctors as the news upsets them and adds to their stress and is bad for their hearts. These are not just the bad news about disasters and calamities and other major problems of the country and the world, but also about obvious injustices that disturb and rankle their moral values. People with or without religion who had been brought up with correct guidelines on what is right and wrong develop an inner sense of justice, experience revulsion by all the injustices happening and reported in the media, especially by powerful personalities and governments.

Last week, September 27, I looked at the front page news of the two major national dailies, and I counted that five of the eight front page stories were about “justice” served or triumphant. These are: Bill Cosby being convicted and sentenced, the wife of Malaysian ex-president Najib arrested and questioned, world leaders laughing at Trump’s speech before the United Nations, the electoral tribunal ruling in favor of Robredo, and public-school teachers getting tributes and awards. This news also came out on radio and TV and in social media. It was a day when justice may have prevailed. In the succeeding days there were also justice-positive news like Grace Poe topping the senatorial surveys, US Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh to undergo another FBI investigation, and a Makati judge not ordering the arrest of Trillanes; but these were no longer in the majority in the front pages.

All religions that have survived are anchored on a set of morals and ethics not just as a guide to its members, but also as a set of rules for order and discipline. Foremost and at the forefront of these moral codes are the fairness and justice provisions. Some religions may opt for retribution justice, which is “an eye for an eye”, while others promote an after-life justice like heaven and hell, or reincarnating as a lower form of life or animal. These moral codes are not just peculiar or limited to religious organizations. Every organization or grouping of people, including nations need a moral code of justice to survive and resolve conflicts within the group. History is replete with examples of kingdoms that fell or collapsed because of injustices. The twelve tribes of David, the Roman Empire, the Egyptian kings, and the diminished British Empire. More recent examples would be Hitler’s Germany, Duvalier’s Haiti, Marcos’ Philippines, and Najib’s Malaysia. The injustices eventually reached hubristic levels that people rose up and revolted. The main reason cited by all rebels and revolutionaries when asked why they revolted, is always the injustices suffered whether in the hands of foreign colonizers or homegrown tyrants.

As I have grown older my undergraduate studies in Philosophy, this time about moral philosophy, keeps creeping back to me and makes more sense when weaved into my years of experience. It now seems to me that the morality of justice is not only a necessary ingredient for mankind to survive and prosper, but is embedded in the natural order of the world and the universe. The Yin and Yang of eastern philosophy and the thesis and antithesis of western philosophy are theories on how everything eventually evens out for all and in all. Christianity may have more emphasis on atonement and retribution but this is actually in all religions. Our god or the gods in multi-theistic religions are really “just” all the time and not only sometimes. But we are not seeing it all the time.

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