We have been having discussions over what ‘justice” is and what it means.  We have watched as the phalanxes are confronted with chants of “no justice, no peace” and yet no one defines the words.

Pretty hard to have a discussion in this country over justice or much of anything else when we deal with . non-serious people.  Those who argue over words forget the old adage about the sticks and stones and words.  In a world where words are considered more dangerous than a thrown brick we may have to despair of ever making progress.  Now there is a big brouhaha (yes that is a word meaning an overexcited reaction to something) over calling rioters “thugs”.  “Thug” has been in our vocabulary since the days of Mark Twain who brought the term back from a trip to India and it stuck in the local vocabulary as a violent criminal who attacks the innocent.

The truth is really something.  I would hope that my friend Mr. Ravi from India would comment as well. In the 1830s an Indian secret society strangled upward of 30,000 native people and travelers as a sacrifice to their goddess Kali, the “Dark Mother,” the Hindu Triple Goddess of creation, preservation, and destruction. The name Thuggee comes from the Sanskrit sthaga, “deceiver.”   So says an online article.  I remember the scary leader of the Thugs in one of my favorite movies from childhood, “Gunga Din”. Words mean things and language must be able to define a common reality or we will be balkanized (yes, that is a word too that means to divide up into tribes).  There will be no justice and no peace if words have to be parsed and analyzed and the force of argument is not based on truth but on the content of the words and the fact that factions want to change what words mean. There was a day when the common vocabulary evolved and people know what words meant in common usage.  You may not like the word but you knew what it meant.  Those days are gone.  I am afraid that words are becoming malleable to the point where we have no way of transmitting truth.

Luther noticed  that people like to change the usage of words.  Words can be a “waxen nose” and made to conform things to our image.  So in this world Rodney King was a motorist, rioters are protesters and the police are the anarchists.

I wish Luther were alive today.  I wonder what his blog would be like.  I know of two quotes of his on justice and peace.

“Peace if possible, truth at all costs.” ― Martin Luther

“Peace is more important than all justice; and peace was not made for the sake of justice, but justice for the sake of peace.” ― Martin Luther