Society, recently, has entered a tumultuous period—men and women all around the world have begun to break the barriers of the old world to start a new one.
Various incidents have sparked this tumult. From supporters of the #MeToo movement to victims of racism and police brutality to protests of recent elections and policy decisions, many individuals on all sides of the debate want change and they want it now. One thing resides at the core of all this: a deep yearning for real justice. The Baha’i teachings say:
The light of men is Justice. Quench it not with the contrary winds of oppression and tyranny. The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men. The ocean of divine wisdom surgeth with this exalted word, while the books of the world cannot contain its inner significance. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, pp. 66-67.
In the midst of all this rapid change we cannot forget about justice, which goes hand in hand with unity. Justice not only produces fairness and equity, but it also serves as a way to unite all people, no matter their political beliefs or faith traditions. The spiritual principal of fairness and justice is neutral and takes no sides.
True justice, though, requires the presumption of innocence. The world’s best legal systems have all recognized this core principle. So when people blame all the atrocities they’ve suffered on a specific group or a single individual, they often seek to penalize without wanting to know the whole truth, and pursue any means of punishment without considering the actual injustices that have occurred.
The Baha’i teachings encourage us, as individuals, to combine our quest for justice with kindness and compassion towards each other:
O Son of Spirit! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, pp. 3-4.
… We exhort the loved ones of God to observe justice and fairness, and to do that which would prompt the friends of God to evince tender mercy and compassion towards each other. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 134.
The Baha’i Teachings explain that justice is a gift, and if used properly, can unite humankind and eliminate all forms of prejudice. Although this task can be tough, if we want change, we have to be able to get out of our comfort zone and confront hate—replacing it with justice and truthfulness, as well as compassion and forgiveness.
It all starts with hearing with our own ears and seeing with our own eyes.
We need to see clearly and listen carefully, and based on truth and facts determine our own independent judgment, without having others feed on our emotions or beliefs. In the midst of allegations and blaming, justice usually seems to be disregarded and misplaced. To avoid that outcome, the Baha’i teachings say, we can illumine our actions with the light of justice:
No matter what your religion, race, or culture, you belong to one human family. Our world has been in turmoil for centuries, and finding everlasting peace has become harder. We should strive to bring individuals together through justice and not allow politics to dominate our values or beliefs. If you want justice, place yourself in the shoes of others and treat them the same way you would want to be treated. The unity of humanity is inevitable, according to the Baha’i teachings, so let’s do this together and take a leap of faith, using justice in our daily lives in order to strengthen our minds to think clearly, fairly, and impartially.