Be overcome by justice

Delphic maxim number five is: Be overcome by justice (Ηττω υπο δικαιου).

The phrasing of this one stops me in my tracks. How in the world are we to be overcome by justice? Overcome is a word that I associate with overwhelmed; be overwhelmed by justice. Be completely covered in justice. Be brought to your knees by justice. Just what does that mean?

I can see how culturally, socially, institutionally we as an entity could stand to be overcome by justice. But what does this look like as an individual?

Justice means fair, right, reasonable, equable. Don’t I already practice those things? I try. But am I overcome by justice? What would it look like if I was?

Justice, from the Victorian Tarot

This is a post filled more with questions than insights. I’d like to think I’m practicing justice – social, legal, environmental – as much as I am able. But I doubt that I am overcome. This post is a good reminder to think more on what this means and how I can be act as a force for justice in this world, act for what is right, reasonable, fair, and all things equitable.

What does this maxim mean to you?

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2 responses to “Be overcome by justice

  1. I’d love to know the lexical item being translated as “overcome.” So often the word “awe” comes up in my own view of practice. How many things really cause us to be “awestruck?” It’s like that with a word like “overcome.” Standing in “awe” of justice. Or, just simply standing in “awe.” So many with whom I talk have a neat compartmentalization of their spiritual practice, and awe is a distant phenomenon. So, when I read “overcome by justice,” I think I read it as “stand in awe of justice.” But then, what is the reaction to being in that kind of awe. Is it any action at all?

    • I am certainly at a disadvantage by not knowing Greek and following along with these maxims. But they are a fresh take on values – and I think they are worth mulling over.

      Awe without action is sort of like fetishizing the moment in a way, a form of compartmentalization. Like wanting ritual merely for the high, not for the relationship enabled by it. On the other hand, it’s hard to blame anyone for craving awe or ritual just because they are intense and incredible feelings. I think I’m rambling….

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