“On what principle, then,shall we any longer choose justice rather that the worst injustice? … Socrates, how can a man ho has any superiority of mind or person or rank or wealth, be willing to honor justice …? And even if there should be some one who is … satisfied that justice is best, still he is not angry with the unjust, but is very ready to forgive them because he also knows that men are not just of their own free will; unless, peradventure, there be someone whom the divinity within him may have inspired with a hatred of injustice, or who has attained knowledge of the truth—but no other man.” ~Plato
Principle of Justice
To many people today, justice means punishing the guilty. More specifically, it means punishing those they disagree with. That is not justice at all. Justice is treating all people equally. Some are saying that should be extended to other life forms as well. Whether a person is punished for his behavior or not should never be determined by his race, nationality, religion or sexual orientation. It definitely should not be based on how much money he has. Justice is about fairness, not punishment.
The speaker asks Socrates how a man of wealth or rank could be willing to honor justice. A good question. In order for wealth to even exist, the economic system in the area must be one of injustice. No one can honestly say that the very wealthy person works 100, 1000, or even 10,000 times as hard as the average person. So if he is making 100, 1000, or 10,000 times as mush money, we are dealing with a system that is unjust. Yet it is possible. An example of which is the CEO of a small technology company who gave himself a big salary cut so he could guarantee that all his employees would get at least $70,000 a year.
The Scent of Injustice
There are many ways to not practice justice, money is just one. When people who’s parents or grandparents were immigrants are now opposing immigrants, that is practicing injustice. Those who want their children to get a good education, but don’t want others to, are practicing injustice. Landlords who charge such high rents that working families are forced to live in the streets is practicing injustice.
The speaker of the quote from Plato’s Republic also says that even those who believe in justice often forgive and tolerate those who are practicing injustice. He answer why they might to that: because they understand that those doing injustice are not doing it of their own free will. It is true that much of the evil and injustice in the world is inspired by Satan and his minions and few people even realize they are doing his bidding. So yes, we must forgive those people up to a point. At the same time, however, we should continue to oppose injustice itself.
Another reason to forgive injustice is that people don’t always recognize it when they see it. There are business owners who think they are being just when an employees who is bringing him a half million dollars in business is paid fifty thousand while the owner is getting two million.
Both on the mundane level of earthly matters, and the divine level of spiritual matters, we can all learn how to truly practice justice. We do it by gaining knowledge, real knowledge. The great knowledge, or Gnosis, that comes from spiritual enlightenment and consciousness expansion. In justice, we can’t trust others to tell us what is true and what is real. This is true of many other things as well. We have to know the truth, we have to achieve Gnosis. He more of us who do that, the quicker we will become the people God wants us to be.