A kingdom founded on injustice never lasts. – Seneca
What does that mean?
This is also alternately translated in the following manner: “Unjust rule never abides continually.”
This quote is an interesting observation of the basics of human nature. Humans are a resilient bunch, and we are often willing to put up with a great deal of trouble and grief for great periods of time.
However, there is always a breaking point. At some point we humans will declare that we have had enough, and we rebel against the injustice.
Those who were oppressed don’t always win the first time, but eventually, they win. Injustice may stand for a while, even generations. But it will fall.
Why is justice important?
Justice, or fitting injustice, is the natural state for some people. Similarly, there are others who seem to thrive on being unjust. It has been a struggle throughout human history. Whether it is slavery of a peoples or their conquest and the unkind rule of the conquerors, injustice is the history of humanity.
Not every conqueror was unjust, but the vast majority have been so. And not every people liberated themselves, but pressure was always there to help change things to relive their oppression. Some conquerors yielded to the pressure, and others tried to hold it in, until it exploded.
Injustice simply rubs too many people the wrong way. That friction increases and will eventually impede social activity. If it goes on for long enough, or the pressure is increased, flames will ignite. And then things will change. Sometimes smoothly, sometimes in bloody revolution.
So, why is justice important? Ask a political prisoner. Ask a slave. Ask the oppressed. Ask the weak. Ask the humble. That said, we have seen the word ‘justice’ abused. Some use it as an excuse for vengeance, to ‘get even’ with someone else. And we all know, that’s not justice.
Where can I apply this in my life?
That depends. Very few people in the entirety of history have been able to topple a kingdom on their own, whether in reality or in metaphor. Instead of focusing outward at the injustices in the world outside ourselves, let us focus instead within. Where are we being unjust to others?
As tough as it might be to topple a kingdom, it can be harder still to examine within ourselves. It is easy, even trivial, to list the injustices done to us. We have been trained to see them. We know them, we feel them, if not daily, then often enough to never forget them.
But where have we shown injustice to others? It is doubtful that we could change the world outside ourselves, but we know we can change our own attitudes and actions. Take a moment and seriously think about the answer to the question: “When, where, and how have you been unjust to others?”
Of course, injustice is always the crime of the other person, right? But are we free of that same crime? Or do we do the same to others? Do we use one injustice to justify another injustice in return? Sadly, I have done so. More in the past than the present, but I keep an eye out for it at all times.
For me, traffic is where my inner animal (and not a good one) is most likely to come out. If someone cuts me off, I have to keep track of myself. I don’t want to chance causing a wreck just to ‘get even,’ right? How about you? What did you come up with as some of the times when you let your injustice show?
Yes, it’s hard to admit such a fault, but are you truly faultless? Until you address the issue, will it tend to get better or tend to get worse? Which do you want to be known as, one who got better, or one who got worse? These are your choices. Has it, or will it soon, become a habit? The problem won’t simply go away, will it?
Think about what you can do to limit the opportunity for you to be unjust. Does it happen more in one place than others? Can you avoid that place? Does it happen more at one time of day than others? Can you be extra cautious and vigilant at those times? Are there particular people you tend to be unjust towards? What can you do to treat them better?
Taming our own inner demons is neither fun nor easy. But it must be done. The question is what will it take to get you to do so? And when someone in unjust to you, what can you do to better control your sense of injustice, and keep it pure and untainted by revenge?