This month, we will explore Karen Armstrong's "Charter for Compassion," Martin Luther King, Jr.'s ideas on the "inevitability of justice," and ideas from other people who have thought deeply about justice from a spiritual perspective.
Some of the questions we will discuss are:
The Tao Te Ching and the Hebrew Bible both speak of justice as a natural state. How do you understand justice as a natural expression of human life?
Are there individuals who are justice role models for you? What about them inspires you? How do you use their teachings in your life?
How do you live out your concerns for justice in your life?
What sort of spiritual practices would support you in your discernment of justice and compassion?
To get the most out of this session, please read the Touchstones Journal on Justice, located here:
Introduction to the Theme
by Amy Rowland
In the West, justice is commonly associated with fairness, but the deeper roots of justice are found in compassion. There are many different applications of justice: legal justice, of which criminal justice is a branch, economic justice, international justice, distributive justice and social justice, just to name a few. Each of these defines an area of concern in which principles of justice help us discern the parameters of what is good and what is right in our actions and obligations towards others.
Justice is more than a collection of rules or social expectations. Justice is a way of being in relationship, which is why compassion is essential in order for justice to truly serve human need. We use compassion, as well as fairness, respect, and other attributes of justice, to create communities with shared expectations and values.
Even with our common language of compassion and fairness, justice can mean different things in different circumstances. It can be easy for us to say that we love justice, but even people who care about justice can disagree about what type of justice is called for, or how it ought to be applied in a particular situation, or even whether the primary concern is about justice for an individual or justice for a community.
Whatever the situation, when we remember to anchor justice in compassion, we are better able to navigate the differences that can otherwise serve to divide us.