The Promise of Justice

The Promise of Justice

_DSC2489-EditJustice is the unifying force expressed in every dimension of reality. The purpose of justice is to maintain unity. The Baha’i writings affirm, “Justice is a powerful force. It is… the standard-bearer of love and bounty… The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men.”

Everything – consciousness, religion, and justice, too – evolves toward wholeness and unity. Our understanding of, and ability to carry out, justice increases and expands with each and every social advance we take toward oneness. As our circles of unity become wider and wider, the effects of justice carried out become deeper and deeper.

For many centuries now, we have lived with a punitive system of justice, which created the need for restorative justice. But when we have evolved our consciousness to a level of maturity, we will be able to live under a unitive system of justice, which will be designed to maintain unity, since it will be built upon the standard of compassion, respect, and equity for all human beings.

Recognizing justice as a force for unity requires seeing through the eye of oneness. Shifting our consciousness this way lets us see the whole first, rather than give preference to any of its parts. Love and justice added together results in unity right away, rather than needing to restore another injustice later on. Justice as a force for unity is the greatest need of our time because world unity is necessary for our very survival.

There is a hidden wholeness to all of existence that a system of global justice has to take into account. The 1993 Declaration of the Parliament of the World’s Religions made this clear: “We are interdependent… opening our hearts to one another, we must sink our narrow differences for the cause of world community… We commit ourselves to a culture of non-violence, respect, justice, and peace. We must strive for a just social and economic order, in which everyone has an equal chance to reach full potential as a human being. Let no one be deceived, there is no global justice without truthfulness and humanness.”

I would only add to this, there is no global justice without the recognition of the oneness of humanity. Carrying out global justice today based upon this oneness and interdependence will actually help achieve the purpose of justice: establishing unity in diversity, the most practical need of our time.


  1. Kit Bigelow January 20, 2016 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    Dear Bob, I appreciate deeply your post on justice. Thank you.

    Might I ask how you think also about these Words of Baha’u’llah indicating that the structure of world order & stability are dependent upon reward and punishment?

    Warm regards, Kit

    “The Great Being saith: O well-beloved ones! The tabernacle of unity hath been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers. Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. We cherish the hope that the light of justice may shine upon the world and sanctify it from tyranny. If the rulers and kings of the earth, the symbols of the power of God, exalted be His glory, arise and resolve to dedicate themselves to whatever will promote the highest interests of the whole of humanity, the reign of justice will assuredly be established amongst the children of men, and the effulgence of its light will envelop the whole earth. The Great Being saith: The structure of world stability and order hath been reared upon, and will continue to be sustained by, the twin pillars of reward and punishment….”

    • robertatkinson January 20, 2016 at 3:27 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much, Kit, for your comment and question. There is so much to this topic that I’m not sure I can do it justice (pun intended) here. And, of course, my thoughts are only my thoughts.

      The quote you have posted contains so many gems. Reward and punishment seem to be presented here are necessary in this world, as equalizing forces, in order to bring about here what already exists in the spiritual world. Tyranny, and the like, are not meant to have a place in this world, either, thus the need for these twin pillars of justice.

      It seems to me that the Baha’i writings confirm that not only is world peace, or ‘peace on earth,’ a promise waiting to be fulfilled, but that justice is as well. And there can’t be one of those without the other. Peace and justice are intricately interconnected and interdependent with each other.

      The key to justice, as well as to peace, is balance and unity, which lead to and are the basis for recognizing wholeness. And the only way we will be able to attain this is to see everything through eye of oneness. With this perspective, the whole is seen first, before any of its parts. And this perspective requires responding to everything as if it is an integral part of the whole. In other words, true justice requires acting and reacting to whatever may happen as if each act or incidence is part of a greater oneness.

      Baha’u’llah’s letters to the kings and rulers of the world of His time are great examples of this. He warned and counseled them that if they did not lead and carry out their responsibilities with a greater sense of wholeness and unity, they would be subject to the primary principle of justice, that of reward and punishment, that if they continued to act as if the part were more important than the whole, whether it be through acts of partisanship or nationalism, there would be the appropriate consequences. And, as we know, the late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the demise and fall of many monarchs and leaders, but that’s another long story.

      What is comes down to is there can be no justice, or peace, without the recognition of our oneness. This is the only way world order and stability can be attained and maintained.

      Without that recognition of our oneness, and living in every way, through every individual and collective act, as if we are truly one human family, we will continue to be subject to the twin pillars of reward and punishment, because justice, being built upon these twin pillars, is ultimately a force to bring about that intended unity, wholeness, and oneness. In the spiritual realm, we are already “fruits of one tree,” “leaves of one branch,” but as long as we act and live otherwise, we are dependent upon these twin pillars.

      As Baha’u’llah says, just prior to what you have quoted here, we, humanity, have been created for “harmony and union.” He also says justice is the powerful force that will bring into physical reality that hidden unity: “Justice hath a mighty force at its command. It is none other than reward and punishment for the deeds of men. By the power of this force the tabernacle of order is established throughout the world, causing the wicked to restrain their natures for fear of punishment.”

      Shoghi Effendi says Baha’u’llah extols justice as “the revealer of the secrets of the world of being, and the standard-bearer of love and bounty”; declares its radiance to be incomparable; affirms that upon it must depend “the organization of the world and the tranquillity of mankind.” He characterizes its “two pillars”—“reward and punishment”—as “the sources of life” to the human race; warns the peoples of the world to bestir themselves in anticipation of its advent; and prophesies that, after an interval of great turmoil and grievous injustice, its day-star will shine in its full splendor and glory.”

      The Baha’i writings also say: “Justice and equity are the twin Guardians that watch over men… The Kingdom of God is founded upon equity and justice, and also upon mercy, compassion, and kindness to every living soul.”

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