Archive for the ‘Justice’ Category

JusticeI wish I could recall who I first heard the following definitions from years ago, but I can’t.  Nevertheless, the following definitions of justice, mercy and grace have stuck with me for a long while.  Here they are:

  • Justice is getting what you deserve.
  • Mercy is not getting what you deserve.
  • Grace is getting more than you deserve.

I think I’m correct in stating that as a rule the following is true:

  • We are eager to see other people come to justice for the wrongs they commit.
  • We at least want mercy for ourselves when we do wrong.
  • What we really want for ourselves is grace.

We have that backwards.  Oh, that the following was more common:

  • That we would be willing to accept justice for what we do;
  • That we would be willing to extend mercy even if it isn’t deserved;
  • That we would rejoice with others when they are the recipients of grace.

Blind JusticeVery few days go by without someone complaining to me about something happening in our company’s internal social network.  Usually it’s about a specific discussion that someone takes offense at or because they think a rule or two have been broken that requires my intervention as community manager.  That goes with the territory of managing a community of 23,000 people that posts over 1,000 messages a day.  Given the activity level, the number of complaints is remarkably low.

An interesting phenomenon of late, however, is the complaint that suggests I don’t moderate political discussions fairly – that I allow people on the left (or on the right) to get away with more than the other side.  The funny part of that complaint is that I hear it from both sides.  The fact that both sides complain tells me I’m being as fair as I know how to be.

While there is some subjectivity to moderating online communities, there are also specific rules in place that I have communicated and that I follow.  The clear-cut rules when broken are the easy ones to enforce.  It’s the more subjective guideline such as showing respect to fellow employees that is up to interpretation and more challenging to enforce.  These are also the ones where people are more likely to disagree with my decisions.

I have no fantasy and no goal of trying to please everyone.  My goal is to do what I think is in the best interests of the community and the business.  As was mentioned by my manager earlier today at a team get-together, you have to develop a pretty thick skin as a community manager given all that comes at you.

If you are in a role that occasionally requires you to make a judgment between sides, then you know the situation I’m in.  Heck, even a parent of two kids knows that situation, much less anyone in a work-related role that calls for mediation between two parties.  As challenging as the role may be at times, there is some comfort in leap year lesson #355: You’re likely being fair if both sides accuse you of favoritism.

Justice is a good thing.  Most are pleased when we see justice served, when criminals get the deserved punishment for their lawbreaking.  Granted, if we are the ones breaking the law, we’re more interested in seeing mercy than justice, but that’s another discussion.

A couple of phrases or terms come to mind that we hear from time to time that deal in some way with justice.  One is “what goes around, comes around.”  Then there is the whole idea of “karma” that some religions subscribe to which relates to the subject but is open to various interpretations and is not intended to be a synonym for “justice.”

It’s easier when the subject is lawbreaking to get agreement on what justice demands.  It can get a little tougher in other contexts, though.

Take, for example, the consequences of a way of life that in time takes its toll on the person to the detriment of physical, emotional, financial, mental or spiritual health.  The end result is justice in the sense that it is the logical consequence of a series of choices that turn out a certain way eventually.

Or take the example of a leader who makes consistently bad decisions over a long period of time to the detriment of the organization he is charged with leading.  There may be nothing criminal about the acts, but the negative impact on others and on the organization are just as real and result in serious consequences, eventually necessitating a change in leadership for the survival of the organization.  The change is a just consequence of many prior actions.

Justice can, of course, be more positive as well.  We enjoy seeing good things happen to good people.  When acts of kindness are rewarded, when hard-working people get promoted, when those normally quiet on the sidelines are recognized as key partners in success, positive justice puts a smile on our face.

I am not naive enough to think that justice always happens in this life, but I do believe that there is a God who is the ultimate judge and who is supremely fair in His judgments.  That is why I believe in leap year lesson #297 – Sooner or later, justice happens.