Sunday, August 6, 2017

Standing at the Intersection

I find myself thinking these days of justice. I do not mean the external system of man~made laws and the courts designed to enforce them. What is most of interest to me is the internal, subjective knowingness we each have, that sense of living from our deepest code, one that is in alignment with All That Is.

While certainly important, a formal legal system can never take the place of attuning to one’s own conscience. Wiktionary traces the word conscience to the Latin conscientia, meaning “knowledge within oneself”. Yet another root is conscrire, which literally means “to know with” or “to know together”.

A conscience is not merely an individual matter. An internal guiding mechanism fit to meet the varied challenges life brings our way, must be grown and continually nourished within a rich contextual soil. The Hopi and Navajo, for example, know themselves to be part of a vast and interconnected web. When this sense of interrelatedness is routinely nurtured, acting casually or carelessly from self~interest is simply unthinkable.

In her book Motherpeace, Vicki Noble suggests that, as our sense of relatedness has broken down, we rely more on an external system of ethics to “summarize what people once knew without the need of words and concepts.” 

To explore the concept of justice, Nobel takes us back to the Greek goddess Themis, who holds scales of balance in one hand and, in the other, a sword to cut through deceit and confusion. An ancient symbol of justice, Themis is the daughter of Gaia, the Earth Mother, and Ouranus, the sky god. Symbolically speaking, therefore, Themis represents the intersection of heaven and earth, the harmony of Yin with Yang.

Justice can never be merely a cerebral endeavor. Right conduct cannot be determined from rational thought alone. True justice must be firmly rooted in a vibrant awareness of our place in the diverse community of living beings on this planet, as well as whichever larger spiritual perspective speaks most profoundly to us. 

Yet in the busy, modern world most of us inhabit, it is easy to be lulled into forgetfulness. So we take to churches, synagogues and mosques. We read sacred texts, sit on cushions or lie on the ground beneath rustling aspens or a star~filled sky. And we re~member ourselves into connection with something far greater than our small concerns.

And when we return to the world, refreshed and nourished, we are better able to add our own voice to those of many, many others calling for a deepening awareness of the interrelatedness at the core of life.

As we do so, we feed a living justice, both external and internal, one that knows in its bones that we are all one, a justice that acts accordingly. Whether in our legislatures and courts, the marketplace, or our own homes, that’s an expression of justice worthy of its name.

Standing with you at the intersection,