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3. Justina

A New Era: The Administration of Justice through Forgiveness

Have you ever experienced situations, where you felt you were due a certain result and did not receive? Delays and disappointments can cause a heartache that chokes your seed of hope. Then shall we not expect great results as we go through life for the sole purpose of self-defense against disappointments? Is life any fun when lived in a defensive mode? I don’t know about you, but I only like being defensive when driving.  

I also tried to have no expectations at all to prevent disappointments, but I’ve found that that kind of stance caused me to get stuck and got me in a mildly depressed state from time to time. 

How do we stay actively engaged in the fulfillment of our destiny and deal with injustice in a proactive way? How do we initiate justice without waiting for it to fall into our lap? For the purposes of this post, I am defining injustice as an instance where you did not receive what you thought were rightfully due.

In that sense, I am addressing subjective injustice that are caused by differences in how we think things should be, because we are humans with independent thoughts and self-interests. In fact, these differences prevail every human relationship that we are to learn how to deal with it sooner or later.

I’ve heard others say that the first step is to forgive the one who caused the subjective injustice along with everyone that partook in the injustice. However, forgiving is hard. I mean, it is extremely difficult without being given an adequate compensation for what you have had to go through. And often, what is possible in real life as a practical compensation is never nearly close to the magnitude of your loss or the life you would have, should have, could have lived in your subjective view. While a support community can lessen the burden you go through, sometimes you feel like you are the only one knowing the fullness of the atrocity. 

It wasn’t until May 2019 that I fell into a real need of receiving justice for my own self. Shortly after my participation in an IFBB regional bodybuilding competition, I wanted to do a check-up on my scoliosis. Several years must have passed since my last x-ray.

The x-ray looked vastly different from what I saw right after the surgery. I sought to speak to my orthopedic doctor in Quebec, Canada. I found out that he had retired rather suddenly and also found a transcript by Radio Canada of an interview with another doctor in the same hospital.

My doctor from childhood had prescribed a new kind of orthopedic brace that he invented himself to children without disclosing the self-interest, or perhaps disclosing it but still prescribing and recommending it to children over other known alternatives in an uncertain situation.

To provide a short background, a prospective clinical trial of this dynamic corrective brace began at a hospital in Canada with 195 patients, the results of which were published in 1999. I had come to wear the brace around 1999, and I was not aware that the brace had only been tested on 195 patients. To me, that number now seems rather small to be putting my life on it, since the brace treatment is an important alternative to avoid spinal fusion surgery that results in the permanent immobility of the spine.

The study went on afterwards. Was I kinda, sorta, maybe, part of a human trial 2.0 without realizing I was in it? During my treatment, I was given a form to sign, which asked if my results could be published in a research paper. As a kid, I was not sure of the possibility of layers of what that meant or could have suggested. As an adult, I was not sure how to feel about everything once I'd read up on all of this.

Were all the questions asked on my behalf by my parents or by my doctors that I would have asked now? Were the decisions that were made for me what I would have chosen as an adult with everything I know now? Could I have bypassed the surgery? Would my spine have been able to move?

I concluded that there were some grey areas. Then I found my consoling in an unexpected place: Hammurabi's Code, “An Eye for an Eye”. Someone else would not know the depth of your pain unless they were dealt with in an eye-for-an-eye fashion. Unless they went into the exact situation, at the exact moment, with everything you were growing up with and were given the same cards, they would not know your pain. However, that kind of setting is just realistically impossible.

Still, I believe an eye for an eye speaks to the spirit of the law and a need for the administration of justice. Note that the code did not say, "Monetary Compensation for an Eye". No amount of money will ever pay for your eye. I would take mobility and alignment of my spine over any amount of compensation any day.  

Then again, I also trusted that no one intended any harm to me purposely. In fact, this situation arose because of good intentions: my parents’ intention to give the best for their child by choosing a reputable hospital; a doctor’s driven desire to come up with a new solution to help innocent children; myself still following what was recommended to me as a child, although I might have lacked understanding.

I put my doctor in that lens as well. He, at the end of his career, was dealt with possibly rejection from the hospital and probably an unintended outcome. He must have meant well but perhaps he was misunderstood. If you spent 44 years as a doctor then experienced a blow to your reputation, especially because of those you spent your whole life serving, what would console his heart? If you were to go for an-eye-for-an-eye solution, you would let the accuser’s own reputation be ruined as well against those they loved and devoted their whole life to.

What about my own life? Did I pursue the right thing, and did I actively communicate to others that my heart was in the right place while doing that? Did I ever replace the essence of life with the pursuit of an auxiliary purpose? Did I ever cause subjective injustice to others unknowingly? Now I was in a place of looking at my own self in the mirror.  

Then I suddenly remembered. I am the firstborn, but my parents had aborted a baby before me. This is a sore spot of my parents during the early years of their marriage, and I do not mean to dishonor them or debate their decision. This is not a pro-life or pro-choice debate, but I am just simply looking within my own life of a time when I might have caused subjective injustice to others.

I was saturated with love as the firstborn of my family. But oh boy was I sorry when I learned of this. Little baby, you might have felt unloved by our parents. I did receive all the love as the firstborn, but you were entitled to this favor. Have you now met our mom who is in heaven? Are you thoroughly loved by her now? I am sure you are, because I know she had you deep down in her heart and only spoke once about it with heaviness.

It is hard to forgive. Sometimes no one does anything verifiably, obviously or intentionally wrong, but you are in a place of having to forgive the situation. Sometimes the assaulter's actions are clearly wrong, but you are unable to receive justice without experiencing more injustice.

What if consequences are permanent? How do we possibly forgive? As for me, I can forgive, when I have hope that justice will be brought to the situation and to the way things happened. When my heart is again filled with love and hope of the calling of my life, I can again forgive. It helps me rise above the tide and see the sunrise.

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Having experienced subjective injustice, we know that sometimes the intention of someone else sincerely wanting justice for you is what revives you. When we look back, this memory with you, that we lived in such a time as this with you, will sustain us to be able to forgive again and again. 

My justice will be brought upon me when you become well. When you become hopeful. When the darkness of my cave provides light in your life. And when you resurrect, truly is my justice served. 

I hope that our story nurtures your soil. Let my ceiling be your floor. Yes perhaps in a selfish way, but in a way that completely lays down my life, I ask you to walk out of your grave clothes, step onto my ceiling and stand tall upon my shoulders. And see further over the promise land. 

I want you to find your justice, administer it and initiate it for yourself through forgiveness. Why? The hope of justice is greater than what forced you into looking for an-eye-for-an-eye solutions. Bring your healed heart and let us forgive one another.

The hope of justice is waiting for you.


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