Justice Q4

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 8, Q4

Justice: “Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

Personal notes:

  • Be true to others;
  • Act honorably;
  • Avoid expediency.

I threw away the first draft of this reflection because it was garbage. That’s indicative of my experience with Justice throughout the year. I’ve had a tough time with it. Not because I am an unjust person, but because the idea of Justice is too effusive and porous. What is Justice? The word is thrown around loosely and repeatedly, its essence and glimmer worn away.

Essentially, there is big Justice: high courts, marble columns, great acts of humanity; and small Justice: treatment of strangers, waiters, your fellow man. Inevitably, I wander to big Justice, and sound like a wind bag doing it — hence the first draft in the garbage. But what I didn’t realize is, I use big Justice to hide the small.

It turns out, I am not so Just — not so perfect. I can be quick to judge. I can lower my expectations of people based on their words, clothing, appearance. I can be mercilessly critical of those closest to me or most like me (the exact opposite of what one would expect). Punctuality, brands, tastes, all very minor things, can leave a very sour taste. I can despise people for it. I can write them off.

I’ve had a tough time with Justice because I’ve been lying to you, and lying to myself. I’m not unduly critical everyday, but often enough. It took a year of denial for me to realize it. When my mind swirls with rosy pictures of noble causes, it’s easy to convince myself that I am a just person. It’s a lie. A helpful lie, but a lie nonetheless. I hid behind the big, and lied about the small. I need to focus on the small. I need to come back to the day-to-day.

==

Next Week

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 9, Q3

Moderation: “Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

Personal notes:

  • Moderate actions;
  • Moderate emotions;
  • Moderate at your worst (tired, exhausted, hungover).

Tired, exhausted, hungover — that’s how I feel. I love the season, but I’m always a little glad when the holidays are over. Finally, a chance to save money, a chance to eat less and drink less, a chance to moderate.

Justice Q3

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 8, Q3

Justice: “Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.”

Personal notes:

  • Be true to others;
  • Act honorably;
  • Avoid the simple way out.

This week reflected the cold, cloudy weather; it was slow and tired, quietly wrapped in a blanket looking out a rainy window. Sitting there, staring out the window, I got to thinking about Honor and Justice. No major epiphanies, no revelations, just a hope, a hope to live out an honorable and just life.

Honor is hidden, it is a choice we make in the darkness. When no one is looking and we are free to choose what we may. We are all prone to stumble, to fall and dirty ourselves – forgetting our better nature – but I hope when the challenges arise, I will stand with honor. I cling to that hope.

I hope that when the world is collapsing and I am lost, my lantern does not fail and I can walk in the darkness as I do in the light. I hope that my courage does not waver and that in the end, I can say I lived an honorable life. I hope all these things and more, these gray thoughts nagging on this rainy day.

==

Next Week

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 9, Q3

Moderation: “Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.”

Personal notes:

  • Practice Moderation of action;
  • Moderate emotional response (especially at 630pm with the kids);
  • Incorporate Moderation into this week’s conduct.

More and more the power of Moderation impresses me; a minimum investment with outsized returns. Moderation of speech, diet, emotion, spending – they are the groundwork of happiness.

Justice Q2

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 8, Q2

Justice: “Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

Personal notes:

  • Always struggle with this one;
  • Be true to others;
  • Don’t make excuses or avoid helping because it’ll make your life easier.

I’m furious at my father. After promising to sit down and record a belated Father’s Day interview for the Dadventures Podcast, he called me up an hour before the interview and abruptly canceled. What really sent me through the roof was his refusal (or inability) to give me a reason – the lack of explanation was infuriating. Right now I am doing my best to “wrong none by doing injuries,” because all I really want to do is send a hurtful email, or rage at him over the phone.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I assume he didn’t understand what a podcast is – I once asked him about a DVR player and he responded, “I’ve got a DVR player, it’s downstairs with some old, blank tapes.” Maybe once he understood that I was asking him to publicly share fatherly insight, he did not want to expose himself; he is very old-school in that way. Alternatively, maybe he did not want to talk to me, his son, about being a dad; also old-school.

Regardless, my boiling blood wanted to do tell him off. Instead, I’m sitting here ruminating the definition of Justice; and partially annoyed while doing it – mainly because this reflective moment is denying me my desire for revenge. Harsh words, I know, but that’s what I’m thinking, and I want to be honest, because I also want to be brutally honest with my dad – I’m disappointed.

I’m profoundly disappointed and want to channel that disappointment into an email explaining why I am hurt and angry, but craft that email in a way that leaves him hurt, angry and sad. “Wrong none by doing injuries,” unfortunately, that is what I want to do; cause injury – so I can’t send any email. I’m disappointed, but shouldn’t hurt my dad in return.

Am I omitting benefits that are my duty as a son? A son should not hope to hurt his dad, but what else? Should I have patience with someone with a different outlook? Offer an explanation of what I’m hoping to accomplish? Dammit, I’m talking myself out of what I want to do – I guess that’s the point though. Will save it for later.

==

Some of the above sounds pretty terrible, but it’s what I wrote when I was angry and trying to think through the situation. I came back a few days later glad I took a moment to calm down and reflect. At its core, I was looking to cause injury – to my father no less – because I had been injured; that would have been unjust. What I’m most glad about is I never sent any email. The reasons behind his cancellation revealed itself a few days later and helped make sense of the situation. It’s something I’d like to talk about next week with Moderation. 

Justice

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week Eight, Q1

Justice: “Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

Personal notes:

  • Put others ahead of yourself;
  • Empathy;
  • Give how you would hope to receive, the “Golden Rule”;
  • What does “Justice” mean?

A friend of mine is destroying himself through addiction. We confronted him last week. The confrontation released a storm of pain, denial, anger, betrayal, sadness, honesty. I told my friend he was killing himself. How do you do that and then go about the rest of your day?

You don’t really. Days are ruined, and being honest with you, there was a big part of me that didn’t want to be there. Why burden myself? Why expose myself to the darkness? I am not family. He has to make choices for himself. This is someone else’s problem…

But there is no one else.

It was after the intervention that I had a moment to reflect and understand the second half of Ben’s phrase, “omitting the benefits that are your duty.” As friends, we have a duty to act on his behalf. Failure to do so is more than an omission, it’s a betrayal; a betrayal risking his life. So we acted.

I understand Justice better now. Said simply, do what is right. Do it despite the pain or discomfort it may cause you. Act with honor in your interactions, both large and small.