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Parenting: On Justice
by Dr. David Isaacs
Taken from "Character Building: A Guide for Teacher And Parents," Four Courts Press.
Definition of Justice
A just person strives constantly to give others what is their due, so that they can fulfill their duties and exercise their rights as persons (the right to life, to cultural and moral goods, to material goods), as parents, as children, as citizens, as workers, as rulers, etc. - and he also tries to see that others do likewise. Difficulties

Justice presents certain difficulties and certain advantages when it comes to commentary. On the one hand, it is one of the few virtues, which might be called fashionable; but for this very reason and also by its very nature, it is one of the most complex of virtues.

This virtue regulates our relationships with God and with others; it ensures that we respect each other’s rights and that we fulfill our duties; it calls for simplicity, sincerity and gratitude. Justice also brings peace, although, as Saint Thomas explains, peace is indirectly the result of justice - in that justice removes the obstacles to peace.

Peace is the direct result of charity, for that is the virtue, which produces union of hearts.[1]

Justice is that it is connected to a whole series of other virtues, each of which is very relevant to educators: obedience, piety (which covers children’s' duties to their parents and to their country), sincerity, friendship, religion, etc. Three aspects and three structures of a just act

Bare in mind three aspects, which are present in every just act:
  • otherness
  • strict right
  • equality
Otherness
Justice is done only in respect to other persons.

A child could break another child's toy, and that would be a fault in justice if he failed to remedy the situation by buying another toy or fixing the broken one, for example. But if the child breaks his own toy, no injustice has occurred. Perhaps a fault against poverty is involved. Strict Right

This means that justice has to do not with a gift but with something which one owes.

For this very reason, justice is a function of an individual's capacity to recognize that he owes a debt. And we can see that, if it has to do with paying exactly what owed, being just can be very 'tough' on people. Therefore, in considering the virtue of justice we must not forget always to keep charity close by.

Equality
This refers to perfect parity between what is owed and what is given.

For an act to be just there should be neither more nor less. It is also good to realize that an act of justice involves three structures: Relationships between individuals Relationships between society and its individual members Relationships of individuals with society. It is also good to-remember that this virtue has to do with one's will, not with one's mind. Justice does not govern intellectual acts as prudence does; it aims at making one's actions right.