Justice and order

Over the weekend, I was mulling a few different concepts over, and one got stuck and wouldn’t go away until I wrote it out. In the news, we see lots of stories about police brutality and the police state. We see lots of stories on social media about companies that rule over their employees with an iron hand or berate customers that step out of line. We see the United States government intruding on personal rights and privacy in countless ways, from NSA spying to the dispensing of military equipment to school districts.

Why do we see these patterns? It’s easy to blame politics, race, and a variety of other surface factors, but there might be a bigger concept to pay attention to. When we see behaviors that we identify as unjust, what we are seeing is the triumph of order over justice.

Order and justice can sometimes be correlated, but order does not necessarily mean justice. In small communities, justice is implicitly built in. In a small town, justice occurs to some degree because everyone knows everyone else’s business; you can’t hide for long. In small companies, it doesn’t take long to ferret out the people who are not pulling their own weight. (and yes, this can be perverted – a white community can behave unjustly towards black citizens, and vice versa).

Once a community, an organization, a company, or a country grow beyond a certain size, justice gives way to order. People want order. They crave order, because order begets stability and predictability, even at the expense of justice. Most importantly, the average man on the street cares less for justice than he does order. Order means the market is predictably open, even if it’s not well stocked.

Ideally, justice and order work together, but very often, they diverge. This occurs because beyond a certain point, one sub-group’s concept of justice is not the same as another sub-group’s. Order becomes the priority, and justice takes a back seat.

When police are buying military hardware to patrol schools, order is in the driver’s seat.

When peaceful dissenters are spied upon, harassed, and even harmed or killed, order is in the driver’s seat.

When a minority is oppressed even when expressing a just viewpoint, order is in the driver’s seat.

Dr. Martin Luther King speaking against war in Vietnam, St. Paul Campus, University of Minnesota

When you look at the news today, you are seeing the triumph of order over everything else. Those who are at the top of the pile, those who are in power (regardless of party or perspective) will champion order, because the current conditions are what brought them to power, and they’d like to stay there.

If that’s not okay, if what’s in the news isn’t just and you want justice, you have to be willing to accept disorder. You have to convince your fellow citizens to accept, embrace, and even foment disorder, because only through disorder can you re-emphasize justice. (obviously, being a practicing Buddhist and a lawful citizen, I strongly recommend peaceful, non-violent disorder)

Disorder means the trains may not run on time. Disorder means that people aren’t where you need them to be. Disorder means that things don’t run as well as they should, and that emotions run hot. Disorder means heated disagreement. But disorder is essential in order to re-organize around a more just order.


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Are you proud to be an American?

Are you proud to be an American? Is America the kind of country that you think best represents you? Do you think other people in other parts of the world think, when confronted with a tough political, social, or economic problem, “What would the Americans do?”

Flag in the wind

If there’s one commonality in today’s America that people of any belief or political faction have, it’s that they feel America’s going in the wrong direction. Conservatives think it’s becoming a craven, gluttonous paradise where anyone can marry anything and their religion is a persecuted minority. Liberals think it’s becoming a Taliban of its own and the rich get richer while everyone else is left in a gutter to rot. The average Joe knows for sure his wallet is getting lighter, the scale in the bathroom says he’s getting heavier, and political leadership seems more like Game of Thrones while the city around him seems like Breaking Bad.

Is this the America that 3,000 people died for on 9/11/01, 13 years ago today?

There are two catchphrases from my friend and former boss, Allen Nance, that would greatly benefit America if we could all live up to them. Do what we say. Work as a team.

We know what our American ideals are. They’re fairly clearly printed in the various founding documents of the nation. Do we actually do what we say? Do we believe that all men are created equal, that we aim to provide for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? If not, then that’s starting point #1. Our basic principles tell us that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are for everyone, not just a privileged few or whoever’s in office right now. Our basic principles tell us that we are a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people – and if we’re not doing what we say, then we need to remove the people from office (of any party or political persuasion) who want things to be just for them and their friends and not everyone.

Do we work as a team? Do you help your neighbors, even if they are hipster liberals and you’re a button-down conservative? Do you wave and say hello to your neighbor in the hallway or on the street, even if you’re a devout Muslim and they’re a Baptist? Do you even know who your neighbors are? Work as a team means that whatever your differences, you put them aside and you work together for your common good. There are plenty of serious issues like poverty, crime, and blight that don’t need to have a political bend to them in order for you to find a common, apolitical solution. Conservatives and liberals don’t want to get mugged coming home from work. Christians, Jews, and Muslims all have charity written into the basic tenets of their respective religions. Blacks, whites, Latinos, and Asians all don’t want a crackhouse in the neighborhood. Find the common ground and work to improve it as a team, as a nation.

Do what we say. Work as a team. Those are tough things to accomplish, but if we do them as a nation, perhaps we’ll build a country everyone can be proud of again.


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Why NSA Spying in World of Warcraft is Ineffective

A simple infographic illustrates the data quality issue:

Why NSA Spying in World of Warcraft is Ineffective
As always, all things Warcraft are trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment.

Feel free to share, Warcraft fans.


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