What is justice? Is it about establishing responsibility, imposing punishment, or getting revenge? If there is a place for compassion within justice, what is that place?
In honour of National Acadian Day, I would like to share with you a favourite story of mine that addresses these issues. It was incorporated within Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s classic tale of love and loss, set against the background of the deportation of the Acadians.
“Once in an ancient city, whose name I no longer remember,
Raised aloft on a column, a brazen statue of Justice
Stood in the public square, upholding the scales in its left hand,
And in its right a sword, as an emblem that justice presided
Over the laws of the land, and the hearts and homes of the people.
Even the birds had built their nests in the scales of the balance,
Having no fear of the sword that flashed in the sunshine above them.
But in the course of time the laws of the land were corrupted;
Might took the place of right, and the weak were oppressed, and the mighty
Ruled with an iron rod. Then it chanced in a nobleman’s palace
That a necklace of pearls was lost, and ere long a suspicion
Fell on an orphan girl who lived as maid in the household.
She, after form of trial condemned to die on the scaffold,
Patiently met her doom at the foot of the statue of Justice.
As to her Father in heaven her innocent spirit ascended,
Lo! o’er the city a tempest rose; and the bolts of the thunder
Smote the statue of bronze, and hurled in wrath from its left hand
Down on the pavement below the clattering scales of the balance,
And in the hollow thereof was found the nest of a magpie,
Into whose clay-built walls the necklace of pearls was inwoven.”
A story upon which we should all reflect, in my view. For more information, please contact my office at (613) 542-2192, visit me at www.lesmorley.com, connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on Twitter (@lesmorley) and on Facebook!