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August 1, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Editorial – The Justice Issue

As an idea, justice can seem so dauntingly huge that it almost without exception eclipses its smaller, more subtle details. Justice is not about just the big, binary opposites—life or death, right or wrong, evil or good. It is also about a lot of little everythings. Justice is balance, in all things and in all ways. Justice is as much about being nice to people as it is about not destroying their lives.

Which leads us to ‘new sincerity’—a new philosophical movement based around the rejection of irony and the embracing of genuine enthusiasm. New sincerity resides within the idea that honesty is the best policy, and that we should stop living our lives in quotation marks. It validates joy and directness. It encourages you to like things because you like them, not because you like complaining about them, or because they are a symbol of how self-aware you are.
As the discursive post-modern experience weights more and more heavily on our lives, we interface more and more directly with the fiction we consume. The blurring of the line between you as person and you as persona is now standard-issue rather than occasional, and society cannot help but twist itself into a self-reflexive knot. This is not the best way to live: Always observing rather than participating. Always forcing a distance between yourself and whatever could touch or affect you. New sincerity is a proper step towards the untying of that hipster knot.
That is a good thing.
But (why does there always have to be a but? They make life so uneasy) new sincerity has also validated the tactless. The kind of people who pride themselves on being ‘blunt’, who claim to ‘just tell it like it is’, believe that their ham-handed meanness falls in step with the optimism at the core of new sincerity. These bullies basically think that anything other than the blank, bald, painful truth is some rose-tinted distraction.
Not so.
Although there will come a time when every one of us will have to take on one of those big, binary opposites, every day, we have to do justice to other people. And we can do that by not being cocks. Contrary to those who believe in new sincerity, it is not unjust or unbalanced to not directly state the total and exact facts of your opinion. It is not misleading to sugarcoat—just a little bit—what you perceive as being the truth. The just thing to do is not to hurt people. Anything else is just called being a dick.

Do the right thing,
Uther & Elle

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About the Author ()

Uther makes theatre. Elle grew up on a boat. Together they edit Salient.

Comments (4)

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  1. Electrum Gtreenstone says:

    Some valid points made in this Justitorial, but I think they are less about justice per se than about “Right Speech”:

    ” In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be […] “

  2. Electrum Greenstone says:

    G”t”reenstone ur [sic]

  3. Electrum Greenstone says:

    ” Broad altruistic principles aside, the Buddha did not prescribe for us what social justice looks like in concrete terms. It’s left to society to work it out. How, then, can we all agree on a just law, a constitution or a government, despite our vastly different life situations? “

  4. Theresa says:

    Reading this makes my deicsinos easier than taking candy from a baby.

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