No matter who is responsible; whether an act of terrorism or the crime of a deranged murderer, the Boston Marathon Bombing is yet another massacre in a lengthening string of mass murders that both strain the fabric of society and bring our communities together. It is important to remember on the same day that this tragedy struck the heart of the American People, the Iraqi People experienced a string of attacks that killed at least 55 individuals. While we will always strive to ask and answer questions when we are faced with such painful reminders of the fact that our world is full of violence, our rational minds can never quite grip the emotional implications of these events. Like all things that leave deep scars in our hearts, unresolved feelings and insecurities caused by past events begin to stir when we are periodically reminded of them or experience similar crises. We may even find ourselves descending into a long and deep personal catastrophe of our own as we watch others pick up the pieces of their lives. Unfortunately, tragic moments in our lives and shared history will continue to materialize, no matter how much we do to lessen their occurrences, but we can push forward and deal with the consequences by working together in order to build stronger community that nurture fewer criminal minds. In closing, I hope next year’s Boston Marathon is even bigger and better than this year’s.
In recent years, the world has seen a growing amount of civil unrest, political strive, economic instability, financial insecurity, violent outbursts, emotional/relationship conflicts, and a general decline in social cohesion. Part of this degenerative trend may well come from a real and/or perceived view that society is becoming fundamentally unjust. While parts of the world have long been deprived of legal justice, those who know it lose faith in the system when judicial review becomes little more than a superficial justification for government overlooking social grievances or it becomes bogged down in technicalities and lawyer speak.
Justice is the social institute that ensures an individual constrains his, or her, actions for the benefit of the whole by offering some guarantee his, or her, most pressing interests will be addressed by society. When society fails to reasonably address the interests of individuals, it is the innate desire for justice that drives communities and individuals to demand offenders attempt to address their offending grievance and offer some sort of restitution for their actions. Justice is what we need to feel the rules of our society are worth following. It is when we feel violated and unheard or we lack choice that we feel the world is unjust. That said, justice is not simply about building a legal system that safeguards us from criminal acts. There is also a need for social, economic, and personal justice.
The idea of social justice stems from a need to offer all members of society equal opportunities to enjoy the privileges and rights afforded to all other members of the community. Largely thanks to the Civil Rights Movement of the Twentieth Century, America has learned individuals should not simply be condemned by society or judged by individuals solely on innate or potentially offensive characteristics. We have come to understand personal merit should be the determinate of someone’s social position. Unfortunately, there remain communities of disempowered individuals who have been locked into degenerative circumstances where there is little to no real, or perceived, opportunity to escape. The value of personal merit, therefore, is greatly diminished for these persons as disempowerment is a lack of choice.
Furthermore, the concept of economic justice builds on the value of personal merit. Clearly, not everyone is born with the same privileges or hurdles, but economic justice hinges on a system that rewards personal merit that benefits society and punishes wrongdoings that hurt society. When people see Wall Street executives, who have maintained or bolstered their privileged positions after causing Americans and all the Peoples of the world untold hardships with the Great Recession, they feel a lack of economic justice. Someone born into a low socioeconomic family, who works hard, tries to be all that he can be, and seeks to do work the world needs, yet finds his basic needs are overlooked when no one will hire him for a job that offers purpose or advancement, feels economic injustice, especially when employers chose to hire uninterested, incompetent workers for even basic entry level jobs over him. In turn, a lack of economic justice is thoroughly demoralizing on a personal level and costs society in terms of unrealized opportunities.
Finally, the need for personal justice comes from a failure of society to punish individuals for selfish, socially degenerative, yet legal, behavior. Personal justice is not revenge as there is room for redemption and forgiveness. It is when we are always asked to turn the other cheek, especially if we have the ability to cause great pain to those who casually hurt us on a continual basis, that we crave personal justice. For example, the innate human need to be loved is often abused by self-serving, egocentric individuals looking to fulfill their own whims without concern for the needs of others. Creating the illusion of love, these people are, at the most, only capable of long-term hookups and other arrangements devoid of honest love. Their actions leave victims searching for the imperfect perfect mate they came to love when they cannot find replacements who do actually love them and can fill the holes cut into their hearts. Personal justice is lacking when individuals and communities no longer offer open and honest criticism of such behavior. People need to be scolded when they cause others great hurt, especially if they could have spent a few moments of their time when it mattered the most to alleviate a lifetime of pain with honesty.
Although a lack of legal justice undermines the fabric of society, all forms of injustice cause damage to our communities and personal relationships. We live in communities to improve the quality of our lives, but people only have an interest in serving the interests of society when their interests are addressed. It is when society no longer serves the interests of the People that social order loses its value, starting with those who have been most neglected. Justice is, however, not simply the responsibility of elected officials and civil servants. Justice can only be served in all of its forms when all the People of a society fight for justice.
Insecure people seeking a sense of security can benefit from a criticism free environment. By affording such individuals reasonable concessions when they engage in disagreeable behaviors, they can learn to both trust and behave in a more acceptable fashion. By contrast, insecure persons, who express their insecurities in a domineering, aggressive manner, will be less likely to benefit from such an environment, because these individuals view concessions to be appeasements. As these individuals begin to feel more secure, they tend to grow increasingly aggressive and domineering. Consequently, the only means of managing their misbehavior is by forcibly stopping the misbehavior and/or offering punishments that demonstrate the willingness and ability of a legitimate authority to prevent the misbehavior.
In recent years, North Korea has grown increasingly hostile towards its neighbors. In spite of the fact the North has been afforded a great deal of concessions over the years, its behavior has only crescendoed from bad to moderate to worse. Not only has the North achieved its goal to become a nuclear power, it has even physically attacked South Korea without a proportional reprisal. Some believed the isolated nation would behave more in line with the expectations of the International Community once it had greater leverage thanks to its expanding nuclear capacity. Unfortunately, it has not. In fact, the installation of Kim Jong-Un after the death of his father has only resulted in an even more aggressive stance. With North Korea ending the long-standing armistice and fully cutting off communications with the South, among other acts of aggression, it is clear the new leader is striving to prove himself deserving of his post while it is unclear if he shares his father’s same drive to behave rationally when it serves his only interests.
Modeling North Korea after an insecure person, the communist country is very much an isolated, insecure nation thoroughly afraid of the outside world while it is also a narcissist, self-righteous country convinced of its own national and racial supremacy. By defying international conventions and engaging the world in a hostile manner since the Korean War stagnated into an armistice sixty years ago, the rogue state has acted as a state terrorist that has successfully used violence and threat of violence to demand continuous ransom from the International Community. Meanwhile, the North Korean government has essentially created a national cult that severely punishes individual and novel thought. This means the culture is stagnate and unlikely to revolt against government misbehavior.
Consequently, the North can only be expected to remain locked into the same vicious cycle that has allowed for its nuclearization and escalating hostility against South Korea, the US, and the rest of the International Community. Political and diplomatic efforts have had a few minor successes; however, these successes will not lead to an end game strategy. Appeasing the North Korean dictator will only encourage his government to demand greater concessions from the West and afford him the room to expand his nuclear arsenal. All diplomatic efforts going forward must, therefore, be aimed at reversing North Korea’s progress on nuclear weapons; otherwise, they will useless endeavors that will result a greater threat in the future. The world is at a critical juncture where the lack of a sufficient response to North Korean violence will lead to escalating aggressions on behave of the North Koreans until the world finds itself in a major war that could start off with a nuclear blast.
Should North Korea strike the South or any other neighbor, either China and/or the United States must make a quick, crushing blow against the North Korean military. In doing so, the North will quickly learn it does not have the military supremacy the leadership has convinced the North Korean People it has. In turn, the North Korean government will either be forced to learn that its bad behavior will not be appeased or escalate the war. If escalation occurs, both China and the US must be prepared to inflict serious damage to the regime’s military infrastructure. As frightening as escalation is, a failure to act will lead to a situation where North Korea will be more likely to use nuclear weapons at a time when it will have a larger stockpile and better delivery systems.
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