Justice or just is?

Suppose a ship with three hundred people is hit by an iceberg and starts sinking. Suppose further that it only has life-saving equipment for a hundred people. How can everyone aboard have justice, in the sense of equal treatment? The only way will be by letting everyone drown. If any hundred people are given those life-rafts, that will be unfair for everyone else. But is letting everyone drown a sensible option? If people are traveling with their loved ones, they may well choose to stay back so that their loved ones can live. 

This example illustrates how life can’t be reduced to a uni-dimensional quest for justice; that quest needs to be balanced with other worthwhile goals, the most fundamental of which may be survival itself. Gita wisdom reminds us that the world we live in is far from ideal (08.15). Sometimes situations don’t let us choose between a bad option such as injustice and a good option such as justice; they only let us choose between a bad option such as injustice and a worse option such as death. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita declares that every endeavor is covered by fault (18.48). 

If we have an inordinate passion for justice, we may become blinded to what just is. Of course, we aren’t meant to accept all things just the way they are; many things can and should be changed to make the world better. Yet we will inevitably encounter situations where other things may add more value to our life than justice will. Gita wisdom provides us spiritual wisdom about the world’s nature and purpose, thereby helping us discern the things that matter the most and live more effectively. 

One-sentence summary:

To add the most value to your life, balance seeking justice with accepting what just is. 

Think it over:

  • What’s wrong with a uni-dimensional pursuit of justice?
  • How can we decide what to strive for? 
  • Is an unjust situation in your life tormenting you? What matters the most for you in that situation?


18.48: Every endeavor is covered by some fault, just as fire is covered by smoke. Therefore one should not give up the work born of his nature, O son of Kunti, even if such work is full of fault.


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  1. Hare Krishna… another wonderful illustration of the verse. Hari Bol 🙏

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