One of the great things about living in Colorado is the bumper stickers. The other day, I saw one that said, “Guns Don’t Kill People, Abortion Clinics Do,” which, whatever you think of those values, is an elegant combination of offensive ideas. There are a lot of keep Christ in Christmas and Jesus fish on SUVs, but just as many stickers about “Karma” and “eARTh” on Priuses. This is a purple state after all.
A few weeks ago on my bike, I saw one that said “If You Want Peace, Want Justice.” I was on a long ride, and I had time to think about this. While I appreciate the sentiment – Who’s against peace? Who’s against justice? – I think it’s misguided.
“Justice” is a platonic ideal, and a subjective one at that. For instance, “justice” in the Middle East means different things to different people, and no one seems close to getting it. We strive for justice, but no punishment can bring back someone who has been murdered, remove the wounds of rape, or a thousand other extreme examples where no punishment can ever create true justice.
This is not to say when wrongs occur that we should choose to be silent in the hopes of peace. But to predicate peace on the achievement of justice seems wrongheaded. We live in an inherently unjust world, but we can still strive for a peaceful existence.