I’ve been thinking about the title of this blog and pondering – “What is justice?”
The first dictionary definition speaks of “righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness”. This seems to capture what I think of when I hear the word ‘justice’. It’s a sense that things are as they should be. It’s fitting that I should be hung up on this word, as my natural way of seeing things is to be preoccupied with how things should be as opposed to how things are. Without an awareness that things can and should be different, nothing will ever change in the world.
Justice isn’t just a word for crusaders or activists, though. What about the world inside you? The complex system of thoughts, feelings, and judgments that take place in your own head? Is it a just world? Do you judge yourself harshly . . . do you judge yourself at all? Do you extend the same compassion to yourself that you want to extend to others? Do your thoughts and opinions come from an informed place? What is it like inside you?
My inner world is random and chaotic. It is the playground of a child and the library of a scholar. It is warm, sunny days and dark, stormy nights. My inner critic can be a real bitch . . . she scares me sometimes. So many voices . . . and sometimes all alone. Is it safe in here? Are the thoughts and judgments of my mind justified? Is this a just world? If I am afraid in here, no wonder I am afraid out there . . .
Justice starts with power, or rather empowerment. I will never be more empowered in the outside world than I am inside my own head. I will never be able to treat others with equity, compassion, and love if I am not practicing these arts in my inner world. Who you are on the inside is who you are . . . and she will always find her way out. There is an inner narrative, a story that is true about you. It doesn’t always line up with the story we tell ourselves or others. Ego will always strive with reality . . . this is the source of our powerlessness and fear.
Find a quiet place . . . sit in stillness, silence, and solitude. Extend an invitation to the real you . . . let her express her fears, her flaws . . . let her be vulnerable. Love her as she is, because transformation into what can and should be always begins by accepting the reality of what is. How can you accept the flaws of others if you cannot acknowledge and accept your own flaws? You will never love others any more than you love yourself – it is simply not possible. If you think I’m wrong, look closely at what you’re calling ‘love’. Are you trying to convince others that you love them by your actions? That’s not love . . . you’re trying to control the narrative about yourself . . . that’s manipulation. You can’t love people you need to control.
Do you try to control yourself? I don’t mean self-control in the good sense; I’m talking about issues like perfectionism and fear. Do you impose impossible standards on yourself? Do you always feel like you don’t quite measure up? All my life I’ve gone through period when I felt I needed to radically change who I was . . . I remember doing this as a little girl. I was bad, wrong, etc., and I decided to be better, nicer, sweeter, whatever. The thing about these self-improvement campaigns is that they never last. They can’t bring about lasting change, because they don’t deal with the real problem. The first problem is ‘who told you you were not okay already?’ The second problem is you failed to go to the one person who can tell you what’s really going on inside you – the real you, she who is disconnected from the outside world, she who lives inside your body, inside your soul.
So sit down with her and create a self place where she can really be herself, express her fears and failures, weep and mourn, grieve losses and regrets. Let her weep until she is still and at peace in your arms. Let her tell you what she needs from you, and then give it to her. She doesn’t need your judgments, your harshness, your know-it-all attitude. She doesn’t need you to fix her – she needs you to empower her with unconditional love and acceptance. She needs you like a child needs her mother. Be your own best friend, your very own soulmate. Love yourself, love every beautiful scar, every crack where the sun pours in . . . work in the garden of your soul together, get your hands dirty in the rich, brown soil. Create a narrative that will bring life to the outside world when it comes forth, because life lives within you.
This is justice.