Somewhere in the mid-1970s I wrote this poem:
counting the cost
those who wave the banners
of liberty and justice
Justice is a relationship word. It encompasses ideology that includes fairness, equity, mutual respect, and egalitarianism. Justice presumes that all people are of equal value and deserve the same rights and opportunities. While everyone having the same amount of everything is neither realistic nor intrinsic to the concept of justice, incorporated is the belief that every human being has a right to enough . . . at least enough of the basics of existence (food, shelter, clothing, education, etc. – see the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights).
Justice necessarily involves give and take, and the giving is done voluntarily by individuals who are willing to have less for the good of their neighbor. A concern for the good of the community trumps greed. The “liberty and justice for all” of the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance is more than just words for people who understand what the phrase means.