On Just Being Just

Dr. Ricardo B. de los Santos, PhD

“Mr. de los Santos, where’s your sense of justice?!” The self-righteous superintendent was grilling me, “Why are you being seen in different places with X. Of course, you know what he has done.”

Of course, I knew what he was supposed to have done. “He’s my friend, Madam,” I said casually. “If you were accused like him I would have also done the same thing for you.”

“But Mr. de los Santos, you know he’s guilty.” I shook my head and for the first time made the woman understand that she had done wrong.  As superintendent, she called on the press and made a grandstand pronouncement that my co-principal, k, the accused was guilty.  knew otherwise, he has confessed to me.  And by some twist of fate, justice must have been being served because in the past he said he had been philandering except that now in his retirable age, he is being accused of something more grave when he has turned to the Lord and has changed.

The superintendent believes in me, some would even say that I am her favorite but no, but I didn’t like her pontificating as if she knew everything about my friend’s case. I did not like her sanctimonious attitude just because my friend openly admitted his sins of the past.  She does not know what is at stake here in my friend’s only “sweat and blood” property being targeted by the accuser. And here because she wanted to be known as the “just” superintendent she had called on heaven and earth to witness against this man he had publicly condemned through mass media.

And my sense of justice? It is there in fact because I have weathered not only my friend’s case, which I believed helped cause his early demise upon retirement but I have also weathered an onslaught of accusations against me by this superintendent who has wanted me to be by her side.

For many people being just is such a difficult thing especially when the whole world seemed to be opposed to your cause including the people you love. Consider the fact that I was entertaining my eldest brother from the states with my friends and the accused when the terrible accusations were aired on television showing even the face of my friend.

Being just is simply difficult because the world has a lot of misinterpretations concerning simple justified actions.  Consider the fact that this same superintendent got jealous over a retiring supervisor who can already be considered half-blind but still wanted to serve DepEd. One day she could not control her jealousy and told me why I am so unfair.  Why do I open the door for the elder supervisor, and why do I let the chair out so that she could sit comfortably? Why do I not do these things for her when in fact, she is the superintendent? She accused in a loud voice so that my office staff could hear.  How embarrassed I was as if I was in a nuclear meltdown.  I have to remind her in a hushed voice so that it would not sound like a lover’s quarrel. “Ma’am, I am sorry if I neglected you but I believe you are still so strong to do things yourself. As for Dr. Y, she is almost blind she may miss the doorknob and hit the chair.”

And so in the exercise of justice, do not say just is easy.  We in the world are easier to misjudge and condemn. Justices of the world condemn but a good judge listens not only with his ears but with his heart. 

Amongst the temporal virtues that one must have to qualify as a citizen of Heaven, justice could be one of the most elusive.  And yet it is indispensable.  When we pray the Lord’s prayer and say that we must be forgiven “as we forgive those who sinned against us” it is short of self-condemnation for people are born of inequity.

God is the most loving Father who is worth condemning His children but what if His children do not recognize the very Advocate He chose to protect and defend them? What could these prodigal children merit in terms of Divine Justice when they are unjust against His very own Mother? Are we not provoking His anger and justice?

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