Lately the word justice has been thrown around often in regards to Osama bin Laden being killed. I would be the first to agree bin Laden deserved to die for what he did on September 11, 2001. I also would agree that killing him might have been justice for the lives of 3,000 plus Americans and their families. Justice, though, is a finicky word. Justice demands that you look at all things around you and gauge the priority of some injustices over that of other injustices.
Does the U.S. government have the right to protect itself and its citizens? Yes of course it does. But where does the role of government protection end? Does the government only protect us from physical harm from foreign invaders? Does it only protect us from harm from domestic thugs? How far is the government willing to go to protect itself and its citizens?
I believe that the government does not go far enough. Exploring justice and inequality in America, where is the justice for Jim Crow, racism, hate crimes, corporate welfare, and the list goes on and on. Where is the protection against a financial system that preys on the poor and uninformed, while greedy bankers at the top make record profits from committing fraud and being bailed out by our tax dollars, then give themselves grotesque bonuses based on profit reports gained from the money given to them by the people of the United States?
Where is the justice for our kids, who because of our new Jim Crow policies, have to endure our society’s incarcerate rather than educate philosophy. Schools are underfunded, and our children are falling behind every year, ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math according to the PISA report this year; while the prison industrial complex gains more and more funding every year. If we don’t educate our poor and middle class the country will have no one to buy the goods that we produce. Gone will be computers in every home, cell phones for everyone, and eventually two car homes that have been staples of American life and prosperity since the 50’s. Without an education the middle class will disappear and then eventually America with it.
Exploring inequality in America, I wonder where is the justice for those millions of parents that want their children to do better, but the ladder up is slowly disappearing. In some neighborhoods the ladder up to the American dream disappeared decades ago. So where is the justice for all those people who have lived their entire lives without hope of a better life? More and more Americans live lives of desperation, hopelessness, poverty, and destitution. How does that affect their children or their families? How does that affect our society with a whole generation of people knowing the only way out for them is prison, or death?
And where is the justice for those former criminals who went to prison, served their time, and now find themselves in a society that won’t employ them, a society that relegates them to second class citizens no matter how long ago their crime was. Why can’t we say to someone that you’ve done your time now welcome back to society? The new Jim Crow is not based on color as much as how much money you have, what your finances look like, and the ability for you to use those finances to keep yourself out of prison; even when everyone knows you’re guilty of defrauding a whole country. Having two different sets of laws for the rich and the poor is unjust. How can we talk and explore this idea of justice in the face of so much injustice and inequality here in America?
The word justice today is being used to describe our actions in Pakistan and it sounds as if it was something that was lost and finally found. The truth is there are millions of American families that are looking for justice every day, “Waiting for Superman” if you will, to save them from the hopelessness and injustice of living in the richest country in the world yet not being able to participate in the American dream because our society has stacked the cards against them. Our government, and especially the elite at the top who run it, have become indignant to the plight of the working poor and the middle class. In a society that spends more incarcerating people than educating them, I hesitate to say that justice has not been done anywhere. So I want to say to everyone be careful how you use words like justice, because if the U.S. has done its job finding justice for the terror of 9-11 then why aren’t they working just as hard to find justice for the terror that millions of Americans live with everyday?
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