Religion column – Is justice blind?
By Fr. Jonathan Filkins
When we Americans hear about, or read about, the word “justice,” the usual thought is focused upon the formal judiciary system now in place. For all pf its quirks, foibles and imperfections, it is upon that which we rely. While we may warmly embrace the philosophy that, “innocent until proven guilty,” is be the standard, we know that it is not always so. What gets in the way is us, and our viewpoints, attitudes and overall makeup.
The recent discoveries in collecting DNA samples, our genetic fingerprints, have exonerated more than a few, previously convicted, Conversely, the procedures have shed new light on previously unsolved crimes and ancient mysteries. We may be assured there will be further discoveries to enable even more accurate identification and knowledge.
Of course, as the discovery of the genetic links became available, the accuracy was called into doubt by the skeptics. As the fingerprint naysayers of 130 years ago, the ability to arrive at a firm conclusion, based upon either methodology, was alleged to be faulty. Even today, the pundits of the DNA testing will not ascribe to 100 percent perfection; although the sometimes-claimed 99.5 percent is awfully close. In criminal cases, DNA and fingerprint evidence, while difficult to overcome, is not insurmountable.
Who knows when the day will come when we can identify, any of us, without question? Perhaps someday, if our future ancestors have dug up some portion of our dusty remains, there may be the ability to say, “Yet, that’s Andy, or Jane.” With all of the other five plus billion proceeding ourselves, there may be a bit of wait in the testing. Yet, the results will never be able to tell us where we are, or where we are going. The only thing it can judge for us is where we have been.
The image of the Roman pagan goddess Justitia is the inspiration for the oft used symbol of the modern judiciary. Blindfolded and holding the scales of justice she, as the non-aligned “Lady Justice,” is to represent the impartiality of those charged with the direction and management of the system.
However, in her symbolism she embodies our flaws, and only stands for a lofty, essentially earthly, moral goal. There is no attempt to link Lady Justice to a higher authority; no effort to establish an even greater authority than our human realm. Indeed, we know our judicial system has its flaws. We know it is not perfect, although we are assured there are timeless efforts to make it so. It is because we are so, well, human, Should we shelve our “amour propre,” for just a bit, we may acknowledge our lack of full objectivity when it comes to anything. Each of us is colored by our experiences, genetics, proclivities and a myriad cacophony of inner voices; each giving their opinion, understood, or not. So, we are left with reaching out to a more perfect authority than ourselves, to achieve absolute justice.
We Christians, who truly believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, have already had the supreme judicial authority amongst us. His presence on this earth, while he established the New Covenant, gave us the answers and what is required to not be kept apart from him; to not be condemned. The judgement of God will be absolute, without spot, error of blemish. It will be the perfect judgement of God, through Jesus Christ, for us. Then, what shall be the verdict, when we stand in the dock?