Justice: noun. the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness: to uphold the justice of a cause. … the maintenance or administration of what is just by law, as by judicial or other proceedings.
Justice is a concept on ethics and law that means that people behave in a way that is fair, equal and balanced for everyone.
Most of us expect our fellow men & women to conduct themselves in a way that is fair and equal to everyone. Expectations like that range from “don’t take my stuff out of my yard, because it’s not yours” to “don’t let your dog roam free so it can bully my dog in my yard”. Going a bit further, we expect that those who do not follow the law will be dealt with by the justice system of the land, learn their lesson and refrain from repeating their actions. But we are so frequently proven wrong.
Politicians, big business, drug dealers and even my neighbour somehow are allowed to carry on as they always have, believing they are right in their actions – that they’re doing nothing wrong – and everyone else be damned.
So it’s no surprise that specific genres in the entertainment world are so attractive to those who no longer have faith in their justice systems. Mystery novels and short stories allow both writers and readers to live for a time in a world where bad guys (and gals) get their just desserts. They are apprehended and forced to pay the consequences of their misdeeds. Westerns, too, fill this need. Now, those two genres split off into sub-genres, but they fill one driving need – to see justice done. To see murderers caught, to see drug dealers captured and put away behind bars, to see extortionists, thugs, car thieves, rapists and con-men all stopped and forced to face justice.
But we all know modern life isn’t that simple. Our justice system (in any country) is not perfect. Not all the criminals are caught, not all are handed down punishments stiff enough to be a true deterrent from a life of crime. It has been said that in North America, we have more drug users behind bars than people convicted of hard crime. That may be true. If it is, then we are forced to admit that our justice system is falling off a horse of its own making. It is in a downward trajectory, and we mere mortals are powerless to fix it.
I believe that fiction has a role to play here.
Fiction can allow us to escape to a world where the bad guy is eventually caught, after a thrilling, nail-biting chase riddled with danger. Whether justice is delivered by a bounty hunter on the back of a horse in the desert or delivered by a cop that always gets his man…we read to find the justice we don’t always see in real life.
I think that’s why I write the stories I do. Because I want to see the bad guys get caught too. And in my stories, I have far more control than I do over my neighbour who lets her dog roam and bully my dog.
In my stories, the criminals are always caught. They always face justice, and it is always more than a slap on the wrist and an admonishment to live a better life.
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