how society shapes the individual's view of justice

Class Forums Government 2017-2018 Essay Assignment 2 how society shapes the individual's view of justice

Viewing 17 reply threads
  • Author
    • #1239

      How does society shape one’s view of justice?

      Society influences the individual’s thoughts in a variety of ways, such as looks, attitude, and character; however, many people do not realize how much, in fact, it affects the individual’s view of justice. I believe justice is the act of doing the right thing, despite what we desire and despite what society leads us to think. Often times, society confuses justice with revenge, teaching us to hurt and avenge those who have wronged us on the assumption we are acting “justly”. Revenge is defined as “The action of hurting or harming someone in return for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands” (, and this is utterly similar to Society’s interpretation of justice we are urged to accept.

      In Matthew 18: 23-27, we are told a story portraying a king who graciously forgave his poor servant, despite the fact he could have gained infinite revenge if he desired. This account reads, <b> </b>“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him.<b> </b>In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’<b> </b>Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.” The king from this story chose to forgive the servant, be just, rather than merely exercise revenge based upon his feelings, contradicting what modern society encourages us to do. In contrast to this story, the play <i>Hamlet </i>chronicles one man’s attempt to gain revenge for his father’s death, yet fails, ending his life in a complete blood-bath. Society teaches us that it is okay to avenge those who have hurt us or brought us discomfort. It distorts the truth based upon feelings and fertilizes these thoughts until we begin to influenced by, even believe, secular ideas rather than Godly ideas. Conversely, the Bible, illustrated by Matthew 18, instructs us to forgive and do what is right by the real definition of justice.

      In the end, throughout our lives, we are constantly fed lies from today’s society that conflict our Biblical beliefs, yet we must fight to support these beliefs as well as never lose sight of God’s instructions and promises.

    • #1245

      What translation are you using?  I’ve never heard a translation that said “owed him millions of dollars.”

      And great job incorperating Matt 18!

    • #1250

      I would like to tweak an aspect of Kadey’s argument. She claims that justice is doing what is right, revenge is harm, harm is wrong, therefore justice is not revenge. Hear me out because I can almost guarantee you will disagree with my first assertion if you don’t read my second paragraph. Pure justice would have us in Hell; by the definition given of revenge, God would be enacting revenge to put us in Hell since we have wronged him. Thus revenge is within the dictates of justice.

      BUT, this does not mean that we must avenge to be just. If a man owes another money, then it is still just if a third man were to willingly pay the debt. Likewise, if the man to whom the money is owed willingly pays the debt by merciful forgiveness, justice is still maintained. We see from this that justice is giving to each what is due while mercy calls for and allows justice without revenge. In the Bible we are called to be just AND LOVE MERCY. Thus, contrary to the Bible in this aspect, our society teaches justice without mercy.

      • #1275

        I would like to add to the already extensive discussion concerning revenge by asking a question. Recall the conversation between Polemarchus and Socrates in book one of The Republic. Polemarchus asserts that justice is doing good to friends and harm to enemies. Socrates says that just as punishing a horse creates in it worse vices, such would be the same with a man. Polemarchus agrees with him in the end that justice could never be doing harm to anyone, even an enemy. I am not sure if I agree with this, however, I believe there is something worth considering there. Furthermore, Romans 12:19-21 clearly states that we must not avenge ourselves. “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but <i>rather</i> give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance <i>is</i> mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Revenge is for God to take. And, as it states in the verse, by doing good to our enemies, we are pouring burning coals upon their heads.

    • #1251

      However Kaydy we do see in the very same story of the forgiving king, that when the servant went out and was unforgiving for a fellow servant the king did not forgive him and instead exacted his rage on him. So then revenge can and should be used as it would be just. Matthew even goes and says

      Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he should pay back all he owed.

      “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

      Showing that if we do not forgive like God has forgiven us then we will be subject to his rage, and revenge meaning that is is just in some situations for at least God to exact his revenge, and I am neither confirming nor denying if it is just in some particular instance for humans to have revenge, but for God I am in complete confirmation that He is just and He will give revenge to those its due

      • This reply was modified 4 years ago by .
    • #1253

      Building on Luke’s arguement, I will supply this verse from Romans 12:19

      “Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, <b class=”quote”>Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay,</b> says the Lord.” (emphasis added.  Taken from the Christian Standard Bible translation)

      So, as Luke said, vengeance is God’s, and he will repay and vengance is not for humans.

      In case there are any who would call my out for using ‘vengeance’ instead of revenge, they are synonamous.  The Encarta Dictionary affirms this definition saying vengeance is “revenge: punishment that is inflicted in return for a wrong.”

    • #1254

      I would like to emphasize how society shapes our view of justice. As Kaydy said, society urges us to protect ourselves and not worry about others. But how does society implant these ideas in our minds? We are in a great school that seeks justice, but most kids attend public schools. In the 20th century, John Dewey and others transformed the public school system to separate kids from their parents in order to teach kids ideas that would make them conform to the state instead of family and moral values. These new ideas largely focus on the self or caring for one’s own. This mindset is similar to Thrasymachus’s idea that justice is the advantage of the stronger. Our generation seeks injustice over justice and believes injustice produces the happier life. Because they have lost their sense of morality, they have no desire to act justly, for it would not benefit their happiness. We must be extremely careful not to allow these ideas of self-worth and promotion distort our beliefs about justice. We must renew our minds with the word of God to withstand the forces of our society

      “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2


    • #1255

      I would like to point out that it was not necessarily justice which prompted the king to have forgiveness for the servant. It was mercy. He extended mercy, at his own loss, for he would not be repaid the debts owed to him. He did, however, implement justice later on, when the servant he forgave, chose to act in selfishness, rather than recognizing that he had been shown mercy and should, in turn, show that same mercy to others. Therefore, the king acted justly in exacting punishment on the servant, by retracting his forgiveness.
      In the Bible we are commanded to love mercy. The king loved mercy and exhibited this in his treatment of the servant. The servant, however, loved himself and did not treat other in mercy. The Bible also commands us to do justice. The king exacted justice on the servant for his treatment of others. The servant, however, did not do justice. For him to act justly, he would have recognized the undeserving mercy he had been given and extend that to others.

    • #1256

      In response to Luke, however, I would assert that the kings actions, contrary to what you said, were not out of revenge. The king acted in recognition of a great injustice and chose to rectify that by applying justice. Revenge is an emotional response. Justice is calculated, rational, and right. I disagree that “revenge can and should be used as it would be just.” Revenge cannot be used for what is just. That is a contradiction. Furthermore, you seem to imply that because the master was angry, we can assume he was acting out of revenge. But that is not true. This is an example of righteous anger-of justified anger. Later on you say that God will likewise show that same anger and revenge to us. But again, I do not believe it is revenge. It is his justice which he will inflict. God is a just God, not a God which acts out of emotion.

    • #1257

      I would like to disagree with Elijah. I believe human revenge (or vengeance) can sometimes be just. There are two parts to justice, as Mr. Henderson explained on Monday, that which is morally right and that which gives each person what is due. Revenge can sometimes stem from the latter half.

      That being said, not all vengeance is just. As Christians, it is critical to determine which types of revenge are just and which are unjust. This separation can be distinguished by the question: is the revenge you desire morally right or does it only seek to benefit you.

      The two parts of justice go hand in hand. There cannot be one without the other. I agree with Kaydy that some revenge can be evil and harmful; however, there are many times when revenge is actually a righteous course of action.

      • #1260

        Graham, the sort of revenge I meant is the former, to punish in return for a wrong done to one’s self.  This is not right for humans to do.  However, I would be open to hearing you defend the act of avenging another person.

        (Avenge, just to be clear we are still using synonoms, is defined by the Encarta English Dictionary as “to retaliate on behalf of yourself or somebody else for a wrong done”)

        To avenge on another’s behalf is a part of justice, but it is not what I meant.

        For clarity, I shall use the terms self-vengance, self-avenge, self-revenging, etc. as meaning to revenge one’s self.  Similarly, I shall use extra-vengance, extra-avenge, extra-revenging, etc. as meaning to revenge another.  It would help if all of us in future specify what sort of revenge is meant, whether a part of it or the whole, either by these terms I just defined or some other means.  Perhaps I am the only one who was confused on this point, though.  But let’s try to eliminate equivocation related errors/missunderstanding.

        For humans to retaliate on someone else’s behalf, to ‘extra-avenge’ in my terms, may be right sometimes, and if you can defend it, please do so – the morality of the Avengers is in question.

        • This reply was modified 4 years ago by .
    • #1258

      Caroline, revenge can indeed be just.  I repeat: “revenge: punishment that is inflicted in return for a wrong”

      Justice includes revenge.  It’s not a contradiction.  It is right to punish wrong.  It is just for a king to “inflict punishment in return for a wrong” whether he be an earthly king, or the Heavenly King.  For God to punish man for man’s wrong against God would be just.  If there was justice without mercy, everyone would, I quote Mr. Henderson, “Go to hell.  Go directly to hell.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect two-hundred dollars”

      Justice includes revenge.  Revenge is a part of justice.

      Humans are not to avenge themselves, as Romans 12:19 tells us, because vengance belongs to the Lord.  Why the Lord but not us?  Because of God’s mercy to us.  It is the same as the parable, God showed us mercy, not the justice we deserved – he did not exact revenge.  Therefore, God Himself will be merciful to man, how much more should man be merciful to man?  It would be the servant being unmerciful to the servant after the king forgave his debt.

      This is what accounts for what you see as the conflict in Luke’s arguement.  It was not just for the servant to seek revenge, because he was forgiven, and forgiven of a debt far greater.  But that doesn’t mean revenge is not a part of justice, it just means that for man, the forgiven servant, to seek of revenge is unjust.

      I have another point, one which is independant of the previous one, which also corrects your mistaken arguement:

      As far as emotion goes, God showed his mercy to us because of love – because of an emotion!  God spared the Israelites from his revenge because Moses, whom he loved, pleaded with him on the mountain.  It was God’s love that spared them His anger.  And Jesus is the ultimate example of this, God sent Jesus to die out of love for us.  His mercy was born out of an emotion, love.

      Also, God has exacted revenge before, he has inflicted punishment in return for a wrong (paraphrasing definition of revenge) in a huge way when he sent the flood.  Out of anger he sent revenge on the earth, and out of love he saved Noah’s family.  Two actions, both based on emotion.  Revenge and mercy both from a perfect God.

      I hope that you will thoughtfully consider these points.  However, if you still disagree, you must disprove both arguements.  Please, for the sake of all here who may be swayed by my arguement, do argue any premise or reasoning that is not true or valid respectively.

    • #1259

      I agree with Caroline’s disagreement with Luke for the king is not seeking revenge of the servant’s brutality against his fellow servant but is giving him what he deserves. Revenge is a selfish desire, but the king’s wrath upon his servant is in response to harm done upon someone else. This wrong against the fellow servant does no harm to the king, and thus, the king cannot be motivated by revenge. Furthermore, God’s justice against us sinners cannot be revenge because we cannot harm God and are powerless against His greatness, but our sinful nature violates God’s nature of complete holiness. Since God is holy, He cannot dwell in the presence of our sinfulness, and this is the reason that unrepentant (for Christ saves those who realize their faults and accept His grace) sinners are condemned to Hell, not because of revenge.

    • #1261

      As I read through the comments I have realized that much debate has gone into the subject of revenge. It seems as though the disagreements sprout from a difference in what each person means by revenge. I would like to argue that what some people in this argument are calling revenge is the part of justice that gives bad things to enemies, while what others mean by revenge is a hateful desire to harm in order to fulfill one’s emotional sense of injustice. It seems the group that defined revenge as the negative side of justice merely meant by saying that the king avenged that he executed justice without implication of malice, and the group that defined revenge as emotional anger would agree.

    • #1264

      It will be immensely helpful if we are all clear on our definitions of terms.

      Luke and Shelby had a debate about censorship that lasted a long time, but boiled down to a simple misunderstanding/misuse of terms.  They really agreed all along.

    • #1265

      Many of you all have brought up good points that we need to think about, and these points are crucial to understanding true justice. However, my argument was not about whether revenge is just; instead, it was about how society shapes our views of justice, and I believe it distorts our belief of justice into that of revenge we use to make ourselves feel better. It does not mean that punishment for a wrong is bad, only that sometimes we seek to punish instead of adopting a different perspective and forgiving. For example, when someone hurts our feelings or does something mean, our first instinct is to do it back to them. This would be revenge by the Oxford Dictionary’s definition, ““The action of hurting or harming someone in return for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands.” Would this truly bring us happiness or could we seek to look past it and grow from the experience? We do not all have to agree, but this was my argument and many have strayed from the point.



      • This reply was modified 4 years ago by .
      • #1272

        Yes, I know we went on a tangent, but I am still going to speak on your point.  I guess I’ll do it now:

        Mostly I agree with you.  To say that justice is only revenge is distorted, because it is incomplete.  Justice more completely defined as righteousness, which is not just about punishing wrongs.  Also, society further limits justice to that revenge which benefits one’s self, either by avenging an injury to one’s self or by avenging wrong that was done to somebody that person loves because it makes him sad/angry/mad (and only secondarily is it really for the sake of the injustice to the other person).

        The latter half of that sentence was probably confusing.  I was trying to say that even when it looks like someone is avenging another person, say, his aunt who was shot, he is doing it more because of the pain it cost himself, that is, the pain of losing the aint, than because it was unjust that the aint was killed.  Do you see what I mean?

        I read a book called Starkindler which is a good example.  In this book, a group of genius teen agers live in a dystopian earth far in the future.  Just after they graduate college their parents are killed in a horrendous incident involving the horrible Mars military.  Mars is a huge military base for a corrupt empire.  The teens are able to find a living in their harsh cruel world, but they are filled with hate.  When they discover their parents’ top-secret technology, they decide to build a war machine that will make Mars and all the evil company-empires pay for their parent’s death.  Throughout the book I read about the main characters rage and hate and his ‘righteous anger’, his bloodlust, his revenge, his desire for justice.  While I think he was right to fight the evil government, his reasons for doing so were twisted.  It wasn’t because the government was so evil as much as because the government was evil to him.  If the parents had not died, the teens may never have lifted a finger to stop the government.  Their hate motivated their every move.

        While there were some qualities about the book I loved – the science fictional ideas, the action filled scenes – every moral seemed tainted, twisted.  Justice was twisted into something like revenge but worse.  He wasn’t going to exact a just punishment for his parents’ death and for the deaths and tortures of all the millions of people subject to the evil government, he wanted to go much farther justice, his bloodlust would never be satisfied.

    • #1269

      I agree with Kaydy. The discussions on revenge look mostly like a disagreement on the definition of revenge. I think the bottom line is this: the king acted justly by punishing the wicked servant, and the wicked servant acted unjustly because he treated his servant wrongly.

      The question, “How does society shape our view of justice” is the vital question for us to ask. As I mentioned in my previous response, our society will shape and form our minds unless we resist it by steeping ourselves in the word of God. This time of our lives is a very crucial time. We are trying to figure out who we are in God, and what it means to serve Him. The world especially wants to shape our minds at this time of life because we are young. We must be constantly vigilant and close to God.

      I’m not saying talking about revenge is unbeneficial or wrong… I am simply saying that it is important for us to understand how society is trying to shape our view of justice.

    • #1270

      On a more focused point, society encourages personal happiness and selfish intentions. One lie that they try to place in people’s heads includes that you must have self-confidence. Another that I will not discuss because it has already been covered is the idea that if someone offends you, then you must get back at them, which is basically revenge, and this mildly plays into the ideas of self-confidence because it tells people that you should be the most important and that you do not deserve to be offended. Moreover, these two lies point to the value of self-righteousness, and as a result of the ideas people are fed what is claimed to be justice, injustice occurs through brutality or, conversely, tolerance. One injustice in America that occurs through tolerance includes the legalization of gay marriage. Society is telling us that justice comes when everyone is equal and happy, completely ignoring the wrong, and this results from homosexuals’ attempt to “justify” their wrongs by saying that it is how they find happiness and that they do not deserve to be offended or discriminated against.

      • This reply was modified 4 years ago by .
    • #1274

      First of all, I would like to clarify something that Elijah said earlier. Luke and I had fundamental differences in opinions, however, in the end we came to a sort of agreement.

      Concerning Kaydy’s essay, on the other hand, I would like to agree and expand her assertions. It is very clear that society has molded into thinking it is something that it is not. I would venture as far as to say that daily people do not get the punishment they deserve because society believes it would be cruel and hateful or, on the other hand, a good person doing good may be publicly shamed for their actions. Prayer is not allowed in school, while mothers celebrate their ability to legally cut their babies into pieces.   It is only going to get worse and we ought to be equipped with the truth in order to combat lies and deception.

    • #1284

      Responding to Kaydy’s original post, I would like to restate something I wrote in my essay. ‘Society will try to convince us that justice is when you achieve what you want. The problem with this theory is that human beings never really attain all that they want. They always desire more.’ Avenging oneself rarely satisfies, but justice always satisfies. The Bible shows us this time and time again. Society will continue to tell us that we are more important than others. It will attempt to convince us that our happiness should always be obtained. We must resist this deception, however, resting on God’s truth in everything we do.

      • #1285

        Whoah, I dissagree.  You say “the Bible shows us [that justice always satisfies] time and time again,”  but that is not true.  I’m not satisfied with justice.  It is just for me to mow the lawn.  It’s my job, I’m supposed to do it, it is right, it is just, for me to do it.  But I find it much more satisfying to NOT mow the lawn.  There’s this great peace that comes with not sweating in the boiling sunlight and steering around chocolate muts that I’d really rather plow right over.  When I do mow the lawn I am hot and sweaty and a good bit of my time has been used up.  Did that satisfy me?  NO NO NO IT DID NOT!  Further, in cases of revenge, if Ever jane went and smashed all my lego creations that I am most pleased by, the ones that took hours of pure genius to put together, I would not by satisfied if she were spanked.  Or put in time-out.  Or beaten black and blue smashed on a bed of nails and then burned.  Or…

        No, there would be nothing to that would satisfy my wrath.  Justice doesn’t satisfy, not even infinite payback would satisfy.


        (no sisters were harmed in the writting of this post)

        • This reply was modified 4 years ago by .
        • #1287

          And let me be clear that, because of God’s work in me, I have matured enough that I wouldn’t actually do anything that horrible to my sister.  I was hyperbolizing to make a point.

Viewing 17 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.