What is our relationship like with injustice?
By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. March 31, 2015
The world is full of injustice. It could be a driver taking your parking spot, a dickhead keying the side of your vehicle, or a tow truck pulling your car away. When we think of injustice we often think of those frustrating situations where our instinctual reaction is fight or flight. We get angry, we want to confront the person for cutting in line. We want to throw a punch at the clerk for overcharging us. We want to lash out because we treat injustice as a direct punishment for a crime we didn’t do. We are victims.
Life is full of these situations where we are left feeling helpless. There is no immediate solution; we simply have to rise above it. If our first thought when something bad happens is to make someone else’s life worse, then we are fuelling more injustice in the world. Your fury will not get you the parking spot you wanted, it won’t fix the side of your car, and it won’t carry you to the impound. We need to understand that there are people in the world who are pricks. They take their anger out on others and get satisfaction for it. We must stand up for ourselves, but we cannot become like them. We are the solution.
Mistreatment and unfortunate situations are a part of life. There is not a microscope on you catching you at your weakest and harming you when you least expect. We are all governed by the ebb and flow of fortune and sometimes we catch the bullshit in the face. Once we understand that everybody steps in a puddle or gets nudged in a crowded space, we can learn to operate with some self-preservation and human decency. We are the change.
We cannot control other people, we cannot control the malfunctioning mechanism of the universe, we cannot force an apology, but we can change our mindset. Our self-interest is a powerful force and it often clouds our perception. We must be well-adjusted people and handle injustice with grace and humility.
It’s unlikely that the man who cut in front of you to get the prime parking spot was rushing into the store to buy medicine for his wife, who had not left the bed in days—but it could be exactly what’s happening. He could have just come from work, where he is pressured to perform as cutbacks are being issued. He wants to get in and out as quickly as possible and return to his crappy life. He wants to relax, make dinner, and go to sleep early so that he can go back to work tomorrow ready to grind it out some more. Suddenly, your injustice seems like a childish tantrum. We are all victims.
Being an adult means being able to handle these injustices and transform them into knowledge, experiences, and wisdom. There is a reason for everything that happens, and perhaps the greatest injustice in the universe is when we don’t learn from the unfairness, so that we may prevent or at least mitigate it in the future.