Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Justice in Relationships

"To give to each his or her own due," was what Margret Farley, R.S.M., Ph.D. defined as justice at last week's lecture on Catholicism and Sexuality. Human nature has an unwritten law intertwined with the soul, intuition, and guilt that works to determine what exactly other people are 'due'. Usually this is set specifically within our basic needs; sustainance of varying forms, both material and immaterial are what breathes life into human beings. One of the most important forms of sustainance is the need for human beings to be in interaction with one another.

There are severe implications in not giving a person this 'due' of positive human relationships. Children are not able to develop basic functions in isolation, and even past childhood, isolated people grow mad and weak, as was the case of the main character in "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. There is no denying that the need for relationships is one that is crucial to the all-over health of a person, yet much of the time, this basic need is not realized. It is overlooked by the essential physical needs of food and shelter, and while these needs are important, relationships are just as important to one's health as these physical needs, and with relationships usually comes the moral obligation to look after one another, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Ideally, relationships are meant to have the moral obligation to look after one another's well-being, however, most relationships are not truly ideal due to overpowering egos. The problem comes when relationships are manipulated from being something created between people to an entity simply about individual gains. 'To give to each his or her own due' is, therefore, an act that is entirely selfless. Justice is selfless, but required in a positively functioning relationship.

This is why relationships are created in the act of being just through service. The paradox of service is that through being selfless in a relationship, by acting not in one's own best interest, but in the interest of the other people and the relationship that is created, the individual self does gain and improve. Being just towards others sanctifies a positive relationship and improves the well-being of all people involved. As a result, more is accomplished through 'giving to each his or her due', since all participants within a relationship benefit, than what would be accomplished by acting on selfish motivations. There is more that justice yields than simply the betterment of person or group of people which is what makes it so significant within one's life.

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