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Justice and law are two words whose meanings are quite often confused, thought the same and mismatched. While these concepts are both certainly connected with one another they definitely do not mean the same thing. When I think of a way in which to describe the difference between the two, I often think the following: justice is the intended goal of the law. The law is the tool that we use in which to bring about justice.
What is law? The law is written rules and regulations that are set up and enforced by governments.
Laws can vary from one country to another. These rules allow each country’s citizens to behave according to the rules that they have set up, ultimately providing a safer place for them. They establish what the citizens, businesses, the government, everyone in a country – what they can and cannot do. Because of these laws, the government (the judiciary of each country) has the power to interpret them and to enforce them on the members of society.
Laws control the way in which we act in society, and if we disobey the laws we can be punished in a court of law.
What is justice? All laws should be based on the idea or principle of justice and should be enforced in a just way. Justice comes from the word just, which means fairness. Therefore justice is a broad concept based on fairness, moral and ethics, kindness and equality among many more. In a just world, we would not be plagued by discrimination, violence and abuse.
In a just world, we would not have had slavery and poverty. Racism would be a thing of the past. But it is not a completely just world. So all we can hope for is the law to do justice. When we’re faced with injustice the law is there to help us. It helps protect us from most of the wrongs in the world.
When we consider the image of the lady of justice we see that she has become the embodiment or symbol of justice and law. She is often depicted blindfolded, with a sword and with a scale. To me, this represents the powers of justice – namely the courts, police, government i.e. the law, the scales representing equality and the blindfold meaning that there is no discrimination. Everyone is to be equal in the eyes of the law.
There is no question that the law and justice are similar but they are also different from one another. Laws are enforced so that we as a society can experience or have a sense of justice. Justice is an abstract concept in which we base our laws off of. These two concepts both aims regulate society’s behaviour and thus creating a more just and equal society. Justice is based on morals while law is based on legal fairness and equality. It is therefore fair to say that a world without laws is undoubtedly a world without justice. We are certainly better off for it.
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