Are We Justified? Let us look at ourselves and maybe learn about nations. Self Righteous.
You know where a great big water buffalo can sleep?
Ya! But I am RIGHT!
I suppose if we ever have to put a "but" in a phrase when talking about ourselves or our actions we have much more learning to do. But can we ever really be justified? Are we ever really right above someone else or their thoughts?
Are we going about being self-righteous? Probably we are. Have you ever puffed out your chest because you were so fired up sure that you were right? Have you ever harmed another thinking it was the right thing to do?
Are We Justified? Let us look at ourselves and maybe learn about nations.
Certainly sometimes you have to stand for something or you will fall for anything. Here is an interesting observation. Bullies will very seldom try to justify their actions to you, they normally spend their focus on tearing down what you think. So in essence here we are not talking of bullies. Bullying is not the nature of the beast we deal with here. You are. I am and we are.
“Justified” is a very cool term. In old school terms it means to be made right. I suppose it has many meanings nowadays. Songwriters, poets and pop culture have brought the meaning to mean more closely that what someone did is OK. Or that he had good reason to do it. But that diminishes the essence of the notion. For we should not look if the action is justified but if the man is justified.
Let us go down that road and have a look.
We can Justify each other
And He Was Justified!
We should look at that term as meaning that he is in a right state. That he is at peace. That he flows with harmony and not discord both within and without. He is squared with his environs and others. In dealing with a muckity muck CFO he mentioned yesterday that the numbers were justified. I heard a lawyer argue that the shooting was justified. And again I heard that the time that a man spent on a project was justified.
We use the term well to mean that conduct or a person is right and we can call that also righteous. So we should ask ourselves are we justified? Not just an action but as a person.
Does the land justify the sea?
How about our nation.
Here we can use the term loosely and look more at a group of peoples than just political boundaries. For a group of people to be justified would mean what exactly? Let us give that notion some descriptions.
It would seem that we should start with “in accord”. Meaning here that in some fashion the people are in agreement with each other. That they are acting in relative union of purpose and method. And just like each individual we expect at least some discord in that to truly act in accord there must be a dialogue or discourse over options, priorities and ethics.
“Proper Purpose and Method” I think we now have a term that is well understood. The “nuclear option”. While that phrase really should be referencing matters on a nuclear level it is understood now to mean total destruction of something. Groups of people even with righteousness on their side are not justified to use methods which destroy other groups. So we can see that even though we may end up fighting to save the innocent and that would be a noble purpose, annihilating the offenders would not be an appropriate method to serve that purpose.
Do you think about your just behavior?
Do you have a reason for most of your actions?
Back to you and me.
It would seem ordinary to suggest that we not bring knives to gunfights or tanks to a peace rally. We must respond to this crazy world around us with some equilibrium. So that when we are justified it takes on the meaning of reasonable responses to stimuli from our world. And here comes the hard part. Acting. In these days it seems that far too many of us do not act for a million reasons. And there is an increasing percentage of people who do nothing but criticize people who do act. Of course if you are reading this you are aware that writing and speaking are actions themselves and we are not restricted to physical actions.
The USA’s recent financial shutdown is a good case in point. There were those that took action because of what they knew what was going to be disastrous (ACA). We as a people mocked them and criticized them for being so obstreperous and causing us inconvenience and strife. But a mere month later we learned that they were right. We did not mock them for what they believed in but simply for acting on those beliefs rather than just going along.
We are most often not justified by our inaction rather than our actions. Our laziness and complacency is what forms us into unjustifiable people. And in the long run, unjustified nations.
Strange place to justify
Most people just use that word to mean saying “I am sorry” and that is a fine use of the word. But an apology really has a much deeper meaning. Justification is a synonym for apology. You see an apology is not limited to a verbal acknowledgement of sorrow, it is what is done to get the speaker back to a justified position. If that simply means acknowledging a wrong then so be it and we are then done. But the deeper meaning includes notions of defense and explanation of conduct and matters of vindication, excuse or extenuation. The most famous of all “apologies” was Socrates defense of his life after charges were brought against him.
So through much training and hard work we can actually build into our thinking an apology for what actions or inactions we took, take or will take. And in so doing act in a justified manner. In other words we can live in justification. As a nation we have trouble with this because our leaders take action without first presenting the apology. And they normally do this with self interest in mind and that cannot be justified.
Self-Righteous is a misused term and is generally used ignorantly
Modern dictionaries all put a negative spin on the notion. They like to add in concepts of smugness and condescension. And so be it if society now uses the term only to mean that negative connotation. But the core meaning of the word is worth knowing. It suggests an introspective analysis and determination of what is right. It really means that someone has taken the time to determine something and then applies that to his life. He has justified and apologized for his thinking and behavior.
Now I dare say that most people do not do that on a consistent level. And now comes along a fellow who does do that, who attempts to be justified in his thought and deed. Well people generally do not like those kind of folks because it causes insecurity within their own lazy process and excuse for behavior not thought out. A review of the lives of Jesus and Socrates shows just how far people will go in order to “bring down” those among us who are truly justified.
So I would hope that the next time someone calls you self-righteous you thank them for the compliment. Because I hope that the next time you speak or act or do nothing you have justified it to yourself at least.
© 2014 Eric Dierker