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Taking Time Out For “Positive” Justice

April 9, 2009
US Supreme Court Building

US Supreme Court Building

If you’re like me then when you hear the word “Justice” you probably think of some courtroom scene with a judge and jury giving their final verdict.  Even though, the verdict may be “just”, such scenes are almost always around some unhappy set of events.  In other words, for the most part “Justice” is almost always associated with a negative connotation of “crime and punishment” or some kind of revenge or redemption or a necessary act to create social order from chaos through the rule of law.  Furthermore, this type of justice usually involves control, fear, and a loss of freedom and imprisonment where at least one party “loses”, if not both.

yinyangThere could be much debate regarding the nature and necessity of this type of justice and whether or not there is a better and more enlightened way to maintain social order but this is not the focus of this article. Instead, it is about an exploration of the macrobiotic principle of opposites; that since there exists such a negative form of justice then there should, theoretically also exist a positive form of justice within our society. and is just as common.  Is there a positive form of “justice” that happens everyday as often as the negative form?  Is there one that is happy uplifting and equally important in maintaining social order and balance?  Is there one that is liberating, inspiring and offers a win-win situation?

birthday1I believe so, and it is in the myriad celebrations, ceremonies and other traditional and not-so traditional rituals that happen and have happened in the course of human events.  Our birthdays, for example, are an opportunity to celebrate our existence.  It is a declarative acknowledgment of ourselves and our arrival.  When we finish our schooling we experience a graduation ceremony to acknowledge the  completion of our study and that we are ready to move on to the next phase of our lives. Marriages are presided over by a “Justice of the Peace” and funerals celebrate our lives and our passing.  Beyond these life celebrations we have various award ceremonies that celebrate human achievement in a variety of fields from Nobel Prizes, the Olympics, Academy Awards, Grammys and so on.


Here is a wonderful example of “positive” justice in action with the recognition of Susan Boyle on the TV Show “Britain’s Got Talent” on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luRmM1J1sfg Watching this type of justice makes everyone happy!


earthhourWhile it may seem like these celebrations and ceremonies are unrelated to “justice” in the sense of crime and punishment they are related in terms of linguistics in being of the same type of “speech act”, meaning that all judgments, pronouncements, recognitions and celebrations are declarations.  As declarations they are brought into existence by the simple act saying so or “declaring” it so.  A recent example of this that involved millions of people around the world was “Earth Hour” where cities around the globe turned off their lights for one hour to conserve energy in celebration of our shared concerned for the Earth.  “Earth Hour” did not exist until  someone spoke and declared it be.  It came into existence merely by the declaration itself.  These declarative acts are usually accompanied by some form of physical documentation to memorialize the act itself in the form of judgments, proclamations, licenses, certificates, medals, trophies and awards.

With negative forms of justice we can feel dissatisfied, even if it was served in our favor, because that type of justice arises out of the need to resolve a dispute or conflict.  We wonder whether or not the dispute could have been avoided in the first place and we are left with a deeper and unsettling question of the uncontrollable nature of life and reality. With positive forms of justice we feel a sense of fulfillment even when we are mere spectators of the act.  We feel this way because we are voluntarily creating and bringing  forth recognition and value for ourselves and others for events that occur in our everyday world.  We know that without our voluntary action to recognize and celebrate such events then they would pass us by unnoticed as if they never existed.  But by seizing opportunities to initiate acknowledgments and celebrations and create positive forms of justice we are able to express our gratitude and experience fulfillment in our lives.

I invite you to pause for a moment and take note of all the wonderful things that you can celebrate in your life. Write them down in your calendar and invite others to share in the celebration.  Make it a social affair.  In today’s world that appears chaotic,out of control and confusing and where the negative forms of justice seem in adequate to bring order in our world, we can bring additional order into our lives through the recognition, acknowledgment and celebration of positive justice.  By doing so we can begin to live a more fulfilling life of gratitude.  What is also great about this form of justice is that we don’t have to wait for anything special to happen.  We can create it now or whenever we wish to recognize, acknowledge and celebrate whatever we like in our lives.  It can be very personal and private or it can be very social and involve millions of others. I invite you to take time out in your life for “positive” Justice.  You will feel grateful, I guarantee it.

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Why I wrote this note:

Aveline's Grave in Becket

Aveline Kushi's burial mound, Becket, MA

February 27, 2009  was my mother, Aveline Kushi’s birthday.  She died in 2001 and is buried on the property where the Kushi Institute is located in Becket, MA.  I went to her grave that day to celebrate her birthday.  It was a Friday and it was a cold, gray day and the ground was still covered with snow from a recent snowfall a day or two earlier.  I said a simple prayer, and meditated while I absorbed the moment.  I also took a photo to capture the occasion.  Afterward I reflected on it and realized that Aveline’s birthday allowed for me to bring order and justice into my life.  It gave me the oppotunity to take time out for “positive” justice and I am fulfilled and forever grateful.

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