by EW Wilder
No one “deserves” what they get. We're all struggling with our circumstances and our choices (or lack thereof) the best we know how—and what we learn about how to engage in this struggle is rarely adequate to the circumstances we are dealt. Woe be to the teenager so coddled as to never have been overwhelmed prior to being faced with adulthood.
Perhaps instead of trying to apply a predetermined system of justice on a universe that doesn't recognize its relevance, we should look at the situation a person is in and ask “What is the best way to alleviate suffering for everyone involved?”
I suppose one could argue that even the principle upon which this idea rests—that suffering should be addressed, and, if possible, overcome—implies a system of justice. And perhaps it does. But the point of reducing things to a simple maxim is to avoid wasting time and energy trying to place the blame, to avoid propagating waves of anger and resentment by casting forth punishments and rewards based solely on statute, faith, or opinion.
For all our apparent abundance, we actually have a dearth of resources in personal energy and time, and, increasingly, in physical resources as well: in food, clean water, secure housing. The notion that we have much to spend on doling out holy edicts ignores the desperate realities faced by suffering people and, in the end, circles back on us and dooms even we who have pledged to “help” make the world a better, more prosperous place.
The most we can do for justice is to stop believing we have a monopoly on defining it and to stop imposing its outcomes in ways that reinforce our own sense of superiority.