L. Ron Hubbard wrote the following article in 1956 concerning concepts of justice, injustice and why it is vital for government bodies to establish and abide by law that does not violate the customs of the people. His words are as applicable today as they were more than 40 years ago.
What is justice?
People speak of an action as unjust or an action as just. What do they mean? Yet, unless we can understand exactly what is meant by these terms, we certainly cannot undertake to evaluate the actions of individuals, communities and nations. For the lack of an ability to so evaluate, misunderstandings come about which have, in the past, led to combative personal relationships and, on the international scene, to war. An individual or a nation fails or refuses to understand the measures taken by another or fails to fall within the agreement of the pattern to which others are accustomed and chaos results.
In Scientology the following definitions now exist:
Justice the impartial administration of the laws of the land in accordance with the extant level of the severity-mercy ratio of the people.
Laws the codified agreements of the people crystallizing their customs and representing their believed-in necessities of conduct.
Mercy a lessening away from the publics acceptance of discipline necessary to guarantee their mutual security.
Severity an increase in that discipline believed necessary by the people to guarantee their security.
Injustice failure to administer existing law.
Equity any civil procedure holding citizens responsible to citizens which delivers decision to persons in accordance with the general expectancy in such cases.
Rights the franchises of citizenship according to existing codes.
When laws are not derived from custom or when a new law contravenes an uncancelled old law, exact law becomes confused and injustice is then inevitable.
Basic justice can occur only when codified law or a majority-held custom exists.
Observing these definitions, jurisprudence only then becomes possible. Law courts, legislatures and legislation become confused, as nothing is possible in the absence of an understanding of such principles.
Laws which do not derive from agreement amongst the society, which we call custom, are unenforceable unless there is then a widespread agreement that this is customary in the society. No matter how many police are hired, no matter the purity of prose with which the legislation is written, no matter the signatures occurring on the enforcing document, the public will not obey that law. Similarly, when a government acts to ignore certain basic customs amongst the people and refuses to enforce them, that government then finds itself in a state of civil turmoil with its people on that subject. We can look at any public-government battle and discover that it stems exactly from a violation of these principles.
An understanding on the part of a nation of the difficulties of another is necessary to a continued peace. When one nation begins to misunderstand the motives and justices conceived necessary by another nation, stress sets up which eventually leads to war, all too often.
Whenever there is an excessive commotion amongst a people against its government, the government is then invited to act as an opponent to the people. If a government is acting toward its people as though it were an opponent of the people and not a member of the team, it becomes obvious that many of these points must exist in the law codes of the country which violate the customs of the people. Wherever such a point exists turbulence results.
And that is justice.
he quality of mercy is not strained it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven... may be poetic, but it is not definitive. It does, however, demonstrate that even in Shakespeares time men were adrift on the subject of justice, injustice, severity and mercy.