What’s “Just” In This World?

Signing up for a Justice course at Harvard would assume I had enough brains to know it’s underway.

Back in March when I discovered the Justice course, it had started a few weeks before.  I applied anyway to see what would happen.  An email arrived saying that since I was a bit late, I would be on record for the next one offered.

I visited the Harvard site to see if a notice for the next course had been posted.  The only information that would pop up was that I was registered.  Frustrated, I waited to hear from them.

Suddenly, a week ago, I was notified of a live lecture on Saturday morning.  The course lectures were finished so the Prof offered this special live lecture for everyone on the course around the world.  All students could post questions.  Even me, I discovered!

We voted on the questions and ones with the highest number of votes would be addressed by Professor Sandel.

Professor Sandel answers a question that takes him to NSA and Snowden's case.

Professor Sandel answers a question that takes him to NSA and Snowden’s case.

Saturday morning, I stopped the world to have this hour with Prof. Sandel.  I hung on his every word.   Polished, inclusive, developmental, humourous and confident, he lived up to his reputation in my opinion.  I was even more determined to take this course with a man of his skills.

Throughout the hour, various terms, phrases and nouns promised volumes of meaning behind and beneath them.  What were those mysteries?  When was the next course, I wondered impatiently.

Then I looked to the left of the video.  Lectures, readings, questions, and tests were hot-linked and, at the bottom, the notice that the final exam would be July 31st.

I clicked on Lecture #1 and saw the whole line-up of video, questions, readings, tests.  All hot-linked and at my beckon and call.  Guess what I’ve been doing this weekend.  And will be doing all month.

Utilitarianism.  Utilitarianism with Free Market.  Libertarianism.  Justice holds so many different meanings to so many different people.  No wonder we easily disagree with one another.

How can we ask for peace when our ideas about justice are all over the map?

Professor Sandel warns that we’ll never be the same after taking this course.

I like that.  I love being challenged to think differently.


…where was I?  If taxation = the taking of earnings i.e. the fruits of our labour…

If, therefore, taking earnings = forced labour…

If, therefore,  forced labour = slavery…

Do we, in fact, own ourselves?

Stay in touch.  Your opinions are welcome!

28 thoughts on “What’s “Just” In This World?

    • Charles, as I learn these different philosophies about justice, my inner voice is saying, “Okay folks! When are we going to talk about ‘attitude’?” Let’s see if and when that comes in – because that inner voice theme is yelling for attention!

    • Oddly enough, Victoria, though this may seem discombobulated, there’s a thread. Yes, it has me very busy! There are times we simply need to know “stuff” to be able to meet it head on and recognize it for what it is.

      If we cannot understand each others concept of justice, how do we achieve peace with one another?

  1. If we follow the formula to it’s natural conclusion, only those who have no need to draw a wage because of huge capital are truly free. Those who pay wages are more free than those who receive them but in a progression since the higher paid are much more free than the lower despite being ‘wage’ slaves themselves.
    The theory seems to be disproved though where politicians are concerned since they receive a wage and yet are not slaves to those who pay them salaries, only to those who purchase their souls.
    I think my brain hurts now.and I’m glad it’s you doing the course and not me.
    xxx Hugs xxx.

    • You have me laughing, David! I’m like you…at times when doing the questions that follow each lecture, I go through quite a process. I begin to answer the question with great confidence – then I talk myself into confusion and deflation! 😀 Thankfully, there are readings that help clarify and develop the theme presented by the question.

    • Yes, it’s exciting, Joss – because I wanted to exercise some critical thinking. I like being bounced out of my comfortable chair! Seems to me I’ve been privy to you doing the same thing – only in a different way! Have to keep you company!

  2. They srarted without you?! What were they thinking?! (Probably something along the lines of “Oh, she’ll figure it out and cram like crazy”…LOL) I checked this one out already, was absolutely wowed by what was offered and put my name in. But no, I’ve not signed up for a course…..yet… Maybe during that “please excuse Mel from work AGAIN” deal. LOL. Not that I’d delay surgery for a course!! LOL. OF COURSE I would. Narrowing it down might be a bit of a chore, but maybe the timing will take care of that for me.
    I’ll wait to see where “attitude” comes into play…and I’d toss out there the simple truth that when you get paid to live your passion, the “slave” bit isn’t taxing (pun intended) cuz I know who my Master IS. Boy would that spark a heated debate in some circles. LOL

    Have fun!! Learn well, grasshopper.

    • Yes, Mel! You and I could always show up, in person, together and shake things up. With love, of course! 😀 Yes, I thought about you having that time on your hands when you weren’t allowed to walk…

  3. Why, maam, you’re becoming so well edumicated that I’m just not sure if I kin keep up wid ya! Have fun now that you’ve found the motherlode. I’m sure we’ll all enjoy sharing your journey.

    • It’s all a journey, Linda. I see Justice as an essential bridge to peace. The trouble with my curiosity being kick started? I haven’t learned to ignore those nudges. Then, further down the road, I look back and see how it all served to meet the next stage, level or dynamic.

      I know you understand that! 😀

    • Converting from Windows to the Mac has been a great exercise, Valerie. The most significant point learned? Most answers are on the Net – in youtube videos posted by people so young, it’s questionable how they reach the keyboards! 😀

      A great reason to take on a challenge of practical purpose and of personal interest, it gives one the impression of having a fine tuned memory. It’s hard to forget “stuff” of high interest and imminent need.

  4. I do admire your commitment Amy ~ if this happened to me I’d probably just say that it’s too late to join now and think that the Universe was sending me a message that this course wasn’t for me! But now I come to think of it, I have studied hard and long in the past ~ not always for qualifications that I interested me but because my employers at the time demanded it. When I’ve committed myself to something that I’m passionate about (Indian Head Massage for example) I studied intensively and passed with flying colours. Maybe that’s the clue ~ when we are studying voluntarily it isn’t hard work. Wishing you good luck, although you will succeed without it! 🙂

    • So true, Jacqueline, it’s very easy to slip into total immersion when engaged in something we love. I’m so grateful for being alive in this time of ever-evolving technology and connection. Indian Head Massage? I’m off to check that out…there! I just did and it sounds wonderful. An Indian lady who plucked my eyebrows with a thread told me how her daughters would rankle on Sunday mornings when she doused their hair with weekly oil treatments as they sat eating breakfast. It meant they stayed indoors which they resented. Then, afterwards, she’d massage them. From her description, it was likely this technique. I said, “Please adopt me.” 😀

  5. Our ideas about justice are all over the map. It’s a wonder that we have any semblance of it given the vagaries and quirks of human nature. It always amazes me that people can actually come together and agree on some form of justice and create laws, given that we’re such an unruly mess given to chaos. Good idea, Amy to exercise the brain!

    • If branches of voting governments are like bodies I’ve observed, the loudest, most expressive and persistent often gets the vote. Time is forever pressing down on the body of decision-makers and too often the wisest voice is the softest. It creates impatience on the part of others and can be demeaned onto a shelf.

      That’s the negative reality.

      Now? We’re in a time where the feminine is to be heard – from men and women. We’re at a stage where we can change these ineffective practices and modes. It’s up to each one of us – diligently trusting and encouraging the voices carrying the wisdom this planet needs.

      Oops, Jean…who put me on that soapbox?! 😀

    • Good, Kim. I share that belief and trust that my attitude keeps me from playing the victim card! We’ll see who in our history of philosophers accounted for “attitude”. If none did, I’d be blown away. You and I would have to step up to the plate…!

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