[by the way, can y'all tell that i'm running out of fun song titles to name my posts? this is the title of an album cut from the 1993 album ten summoner's tales by sting. STING! gaah. but i digress.]
being among the lawya-types of the world, i think a lot about justice. when you’re in law school in particular, you tend to drink the NOBILITY OF JUSTICE flavor aid. y’know, the lofty purity of the academic study of the law, where you can build this perfect world of applying the words to the facts and letting it go at that. and it’s really, really seductive, too. when you’re in the thick of the study, it’s easy to believe that justice will win out over the forces of bad, dumb and evil.
but then you get back from school into the real world, and you get right back into the reality of the situation. there is no such thing as justice, really. not in the purest sense of the word, anyway. we’re human beings, and simply because perfection is beyond the grasp of humans, pure justice is impossible. we can get pretty close, when we try real hard and look to our better angels. but we all know better. and somehow, remembering how life is stings a lot harder when you’ve spent all that time in the shining city on the law-school hill.
and i’m not just referring to criminal justice, fair trade practices or actual arenas that concern lawya-ing. law school really gets in your head and makes you think that you can achieve clarity and balanced justice in your personal life. it did for me, anyway. i evaluated my marriage to my ex in light of things like fairness to him, competing equities, and all that stuff. the marriage did not pass muster.
i did this again with my racist bigoted crazy-ass grandmother. i stated my case, awaited the answer, the whole nine. and you know what happened? i got no justice. being forthright and honest, using cold, clear reason, got me a fat load of nothing (and allowed her to kick her martyr complex into HIGH gear). i did this again with another undiscloseable family situation. i encouraged the application of honest, forthright reason to a problem, and not only did we get nothing in return, THAT one exploded and got about a billion times worse than it had been before i tried to apply reasonable principles of honesty to an irrational bad actor.
so what have we learned?
sometimes the bad guys get their way. you can’t be reasonable with people who actively reject reason. and justice, in those cases, straight-up fails you. but there is an upside to this sort of thing: you are provided with the full range of information you need to determine whether or not you actually want to maintain relationships or remain in certain situations. you get to either cut your losses and flee, or you can fight crazy with love. (the christofascist nutbars tend to describe this tactic as, “well, we’re just gonna love ‘em back.” it’s a variation of attracting more flies with honey than with vinegar, i think.)
and you figure out, in those times of crisis, when logic, reason and justice fail, who your real friends are. those are the folks who fill the holes left by the explosions with love, with laughs and drinks, with commiseration over snacks or over twitter, and with the sense that all is not lost. you can swaddle yourself in the knowledge that a lot of people care about you, even when it’s been made abundantly clear that some people who you’d think would be required by position and relationships to care cannot get past their own narcissistic malevolence to care.
in those moments, you see love trump justice. justice stops mattering so damn much. yeah, these idiots wronged you. and they’re idiots, and they’re wrong for it. but they’re not going to stop being idiots, even though you’ve called them on their idiocy. in fact, they’ve doubled down on their idiocy and slathered it all in a dose of self-righteous, wounded, martyred rage. but for all the big, loud, explosive presence those bad actors have in your life, the lovers, the laughers, and the people who care have more. it would be really awesome to get redress for the wrongs. but when you have so damn much love to block out the clanging, wailing malevolence, who the hell needs justice? just turn up the music, pour the champagne and get in there to celebrate what matters: love. cheers.