Friday, May 8, 2009

"A Few Good Men", a Movie on Justice

Last night I went to babysit my grandchildren, while my daughter and son-in-law worked. After putting the kids to bed, I watched the movie, "A Few Good Men". It was a great movie about justice.

Justice has been defined in many ways. But, this was a movie that held those in leadership accountable in the "chain of command".

The movie was about two Marines in Guantanamo Bay, who were charged with murder of a fellow Marine. These Marines followed the orders of their superior, a colonel, under "code red". Code red was a term meaning that one must under all circumstances carry out obediently orders. Code red is a way to maintain "order" or "control", but it is not a way to carry out justice.

Hierarchal governmental structures are good at maintaining order or control, but do not necessarily bring about justice or are just in the means to attain justice. The ends justify the means, unless there is a balance of power and a way to address "blind spots", in "goal accomplishment". One must never be a blind slave or servant of injustice or unjust "governments", even in the name and for the sake of justice.

In the end of the movie, this is what the lawyer did, to bring about justice. He held the one in authority accountable to his command. The two Marines were honorably discharged. Justice does require accountability to "the rule of law" and to right norms of human behavior.

Today's world is being challenged in the area and sense of justice by multiculturalism. Multiculturalism values all cultures alike and considers their view when making value judgments. This is the road to tolerance for those who do not value human rights, such as the Taliban.

But, while the moral absolute of justice does value the individual's right, religion does not view the individual but the social/communal way of understanding culture. I find that in our international world, there are various ways of understanding citizenship, for instance.

The young Somalian woman who sought political asylum in the Netherlands and became a Dutch citizen found out that her citizenship was negated after some of her forms were not "truthful". Later, it was ruled that under Somalian law or understanding of citizenship, she had filled out the forms "correctly". The Netherlands took her motive into evaluating her credibility. Her Somalian culture determined her understanding and therefore, her way of filling out the form.

So, in regards to justice in international relations, the individual will always trump religion's social cultural "rules" and values. Thus, the secular humanist understands the danger of religion and religious zeal. I agree.

1 comment:

dwlytle said...

Note that the two marines, Dawson and Downey, were actually "dishonorably discharged" and sentenced to time served. Downey, still not getting it, is told by Dawson (who has sort of an epiphany), “We're supposed to fight for people who can't fight for themselves. We were supposed to fight for Willy.”