Grace and Justice

There is a delicate balance that exists between grace and justice. Our society values justice much more than it values grace. Yet the two are not mutually exclusive. They cannot be understood out of context with one another. Each serves as a back drop to understand the other. Our tendency as people is to think in black and white terms. Shades of gray are uncomfortable for us. We look at things as either good or bad, right or wrong, and positive or negative. These labels are more given out of judgement than out of actual reflection and thought. Carl Jung said once that “we judge because it is easier than thinking.” This is very true. By and large, people have forgotten how to critically look at a situation and explore it from all angles to develop an informed opinion. Rather, it is easier to just accept the opinion of a newscaster or some other prominent figure. There is a problem with this emotional polarization though. Taken to extreme in relation to people, it creates the idea that people are either good or bad. The truth is that everyone has the capacity for both good and evil. There are few people who ever lived who have never done something kind or good at some juncture in their life. The opposite is true as well. Every person, no matter how good, has done some act of evil at some point in their lives as well. Personally, I tend to see people as inherently good while sometimes doing bad things. To polarize people as good or bad is to eliminate grace. Yet grace must be understood in the context of justice. Grace does not just let misconduct slide, but it acknowledges the misconduct and enlists justice in disciplining the individual. Grace does not legitimize the acts committed against another, but rather it serves as a back drop for justice while allowing for the healing of the one victimized. Throughout the justice process, grace is always present allowing for a person to make efforts at amends, apologize and change their direction. A balance of grace and justice allows for discipline that doesn’t write off a person or take away their humanity, but rather, it allows for change and growth. It is intriguing that for us as individuals, we always seem to prefer grace for ourselves over justice, but for others we value justice over grace.

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