You know someone, and you know that he has regularly mistreated co-workers or a spouse, or employees, or women, or people of color, etc., but he has never been caught, or if caught, never crossed the line in a way that punishment could be meted out by our legal system. You also know that this person has achieved professional or worldly recognition. Perhaps an award, a well-paying job, or acclaim in social media, maybe even in an area related to his reprehensible actions, for example, the abusive spouse who now leads an organization dedicated to defending family values. You wish you could successfully publicize what you know, but for any number of reasons, this turns out to be impossible.
To add insult to injury, people routinely sing his praises. Not only for specific deeds, but for being a wonderful person, although you know, as the expression goes, he would be willing to sell his own mother in order to get ahead.
If you are religious in a certain way, you believe that people like this will be punished in due course, if not in this life, in the next one. Yet, even if you believe this, it is still galling that they are getting away with it in the here and now. And if you are not a believer of this sort, it can be infuriating, for it seems that there will never be any justice.
Justice. A terribly difficult word to define, but in common usage, it covers the notion that punishment should fit the crime.
But there is no punishment for the miscreant you know. Quite the contrary. His crimes go unnoticed or are buried. There is no justice, at least not in this lifetime. You try to say to yourself: ah, but there are so many injustices in the world, I shouldn’t let the actions of one person get to me. It’s the way of the world. But then you see an announcement, another award, another feather in the person’s cap, and you become angry, once again. It’s all so wrong, so unjust.
Is it any wonder that The Count of Monte Cristo remains a classic?
How should we handle these situations? There certainly isn’t one answer. Some of us may be inclined to take the Count’s route: patiently wait and hope that the pieces fall in place for justice to be done. Or we can curse. Or we can go out and do some good deeds in order to try to shake off a little of the world’s dirt. Or we might forgive the person, in our own minds.
But I didn’t write this post to provide an answer. I only wanted to offer a small reminder to those dealing with this sort of injustice: you are not alone. And hold open the possibility that maybe, just maybe, someday, the whole world will be watching what you have seen.