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Contemplations on the Nature of Justice
The instinctive definition is to claim that Justice is that which brings punishment onto a criminal, to take one who has harmed us or our laws, our society and see retribution brought upon them. This view on it, a visceral thing that comes from the hurt and dark parts of our psyche, is exactly that which the Virtue is designed to protect against. This is retribution, or revenge, not Justice.

The Virtue of Justice is the Principle of Truth, tempered by the Principle of Love. Justice, therefore, must be the judgement of a crime and a proper punishment given for it, but with it must come a conscience, ethicality, a heart of Compassion, which softens the hard hand of Truth and deals true Justice.

The Druidess Jaana teaches that in Justice, we must consider the total effect of both the crime and of what Justice we deal. We must consider not merely the crime, but the intent of the person who committed the crime.

I recall a circumstance I found myself in once, which may illuminate the matter;

I found myself travelling between Britain and Yew one year, when I came across an farmer, chasing a skinny lad towards me.

I turned my steed sideways, stopping them both, and greeted them with raised hand.

"Greetings! May I ask what transpires here?"

The farmer grabbed the youth by the collar and, seeing the symbols of Virtue about my armour, presented him to me with an expression of glee.

"Paladin! I caught this youth stealing my apples! I have no family, and I must spend hours collecting what I can from my farm and sell them to survive - I demand Justice!"

I looked intently at the farmer "You wish true Justice, sir? And will abide by my judgement in this?"

The farmer nodded grimly, and the boy seemed to pale, gripped solid still by the farmer as he was.

I considered the issue before me carefully, before delivering what I considered to be Justice.

"Boy - you have committed the crime of theft, and stolen food from this farmer." I looked at him grimly, noting his sunken and hungry features. "Your punishment is thus; you will work for the farmer for the next three seasons. He shall feed you and lodge you, but he shall not pay you for your labour." The boy, fearfully, nodded. "And do not think of running, else I shall seek you out."

I looked at the apparently shocked and angry farmer, "You have asked for Justice, good farmer; you have one who will work for you, and together you will harvest a greater load of fruit."

The farmer realised then that he had received aid which would help him greatly, and the boy realised - in due time - that he would be fed and had a place to live."

When I came on the farm some years hence, the boy still worked for the farmer, who considered him a son.

They had received true Justice - Truth, tempered by Love.

Published: December 2006
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
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