The other day, I asked a friend if my blog reference to him did him justice. Happily, he said that it did, and I began thinking about the word justice. None of the curricula that I have taught have included any reference, direct or oblique, to justice. We talk about the judicial system, especially when we are adding a Supreme Court justice. But beyond that, how often do the majority of world citizens think about justice?

Many of us often think about the need for justice when we see someone or a group of people doing something that is clearly and absolutely wrong. A good example is the cretin who was taunting bison at Yellowstone, one of my most treasured places. He was eventually apprehended and placed in the Yellowstone jail. Justice was served.

Likewise, when the pedophile who abused hundreds of young Olympic gymnasts was arrested, we cheered at the delivery of justice. There were no gray areas or chances for mitigation. My opinion is that society hasn’t yet identified a punishment that is harsh enough for him.

My goal as an educator is to deliver justice to rule-breakers as often and consistently as possible. We need to give them choices. If they fail to uphold promises, they understand that they will experience appropriate consequences. To my mind, this is how we teach our children about justice.

If you steal a classmate’s food, you get no snack. If you can’t manage to work cooperatively, you work alone. If you keep blurting out information during class participation, I will not call on you.

One way or another, we must teach that we always have choices. Making wrong ones will result in justice. When you’re driving 65 in a 40 mile per hour zone, I will cheer at your speeding ticket.

Likewise, justice can be positive. Pay your taxes, abide by the laws that are in place and you’re entitled to help mold your world by voting. Violate that with gymnastic students or bison and you deserve the worst that we can orchestrate. Shalom.

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