Clare, a fictional person, is a wife and works outside the home. She and her husband have two boys. They go to a Catholic school called Western Academy in Houston, TX. She is employed by a top three Houston recruiting firm. The scenario, not unrealistic at all, is left without resolution so that the reader may consider what the fair act of justice might be.
“Clare, we have decided to go with another person for the promotion of director. The executives admire your long commitment, skills, and previous hard work.” said her boss.
“I thank you for considering me for the position. Are there any areas that I can work on so that next time I can be more competitive in my advancement?” she responds.
“Clare, let me be honest. I have worked with you since you joined this recruitment agency. When I first heard of the opening, I personally wrote a recommendation to the vice president and visited with the president. I know you were the best choice for this position. I want to be completely open with you because I know you would do the same for me. How about we meet for lunch tomorrow to discuss this?”
The next day…
“Thanks Jim for taking your lunch and time from your busy schedule to meet with me. I have always appreciated that you have been honest in my career. You have helped me become a better manager, sent me to leadership training institutes, and have been frank with areas that I needed to develop. Remember when my second son was born and I was worried that my maternity leave would affect my position? You gave me the opportunity to work from home three days a week and part time on the remaining two.”
\”Clare, you are welcome. Now, let me tell you what I know about this recent opening. I am ashamed to admit that when I met with the other executives they mentioned that Jim should be chosen. I mentioned to the group that you have been more successful, punctual to a fault, aggressive in development, in short, you have earned this position. They acknowledged that on paper, you were easily the better candidate. So I pressed them. ‘Why aren’t we choosing her then?’ I asked. You should have heard their response. Jim was chosen despite his flaws that have lost the company more than three accounts because he plays golf at the men’s club on Friday’s. Remember those half day Friday’s he was allowed for \’helping his sick wife\’? Well, it turns out he had been hitting the green on the same afternoon with VP Dave Smith. When I heard this, I was sick to my stomach. It just wasn’t fair.\”
“Justice toward men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good.” CCC 1807
Just like prudence and temperance, justice is another cardinal virtue that has other virtues hanging from it. Gratitude, veracity, and religion are some of the sub-categories of justice. This virtue is so important for leaders that Dante includes it in the circles of Heaven and gives David and Constantine as examples of just rulers. An unjust person cannot recognize that he needs to be thankful for the service of others. He also does not see the need to be truthful for no one is owed anything and everything is for the self according to him. The virtue of religion is also not in the just person because he sees no need to recognize God as the author of all good.
Even in contemporary institutions, we can find justice taking a primary role in the relationship with others. Take for example the market place. Without justice, contracts would be worthless. Trade would turn into a power conflict of the rich against poor. Man will try to take what is not due to him. We see this in collectivism when people take for their own that which is not their property. We also see this in unbridled capitalism when the rich make the laws to increase their own power at the expense of the poor, another name for this is cronyism.
Some organizations see the trouble that injustice creates and they take a stance to protect this virtue. They train their members to be consistent with each person. Nobody should get special treatment that is not due to them.
For example, in the Marine Corp’s list of leadership traits, remembered by the acronym “J.J. DID TIE BUCKLE”, the first “J” is for justice. A leader must be honest and fair with his followers so that favoritism does not give others undue credit on a personal level. It also works for the common good because it could harm the mission by not selecting those with most merit. The Marine’s simple definition of justice is:
What can we expect if seek after justice? We know we can look forward to an uneasy life. The just person may not always be liked by those that seek to gain without providing his part of the bargain, but a person of good heart will recognize he is fair. Jesus instructs us: \”Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice\’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.\” This shows us why Dante thinks so highly of justice.
As we seek toward justice, we can ask St. Joseph to intercede for us. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has taught: “It is no exaggeration to say that it was from his \’father\’ Joseph that Jesus acquired – on the human level – that robust interiority which presupposes authentic justice, the \’superior justice\’ which He would one day teach to his disciples (cfr Mt 5:20).”
© 2013. Jared Tomanek. All Rights Reserved.