School: Mount Saint Gabriel’s Secondary School, Makurdi
16 Years. Male
Our minds easily drift to the image of Lady Justice, and a person behind bars. We unknowingly cage justice in the court and shove freedom into a prison.
The reach of justice and freedom goes beyond childish misconceptions like “oh, so I can slap my father”.
Justice should not be ignored; neither should the various views of cultures ans factions about it. However, the Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary conjectured a general meaning for it. Justice is the fair treatment of people.
The same dictionary depicts freedom as the ability to act and speak as one wishes without anyone stopping you, and the state of not being imprisoned or in slavery.
Discipline, law and order, even justice cannot thrive without a restriction of man’s freedom. However, all men cry out for freedom, therefore all humans should be allowed as much freedom as necessary to maintain a peaceful and happy society.
Justice and freedom are the foundations of civilization. Civilization bred innovation and the development of humanity. No inventor would have succeeded if he or she was stripped of his or her freedom and forced to labour in an unjust society. Albert Einstein agrees, “Anything that is truly great and inspiring was and is created by the individual who labours in freedom”.
What has always been the cause for countries to seek independence? The unjust treatment of their colonialists. It was the promise of freedom and justice that motivated the fathers of modern America to fight against the prevailing British forces. Time and time again, the annals of history have shown that justice and freedom are essential conditions for humanity.
According to Pope Pius XII, peace is vital, and there can be no peace without order, there can be no order without justice.
Most of the defaulters of law and order today were prior to their misconduct, deprived of their rights and treated unfairly. In a desperate attempt to get what they want, they shun justice and freedom.
In Nigeria for example, there was an uprising of militants in the Niger Delta about 5-10 years ago. What was the sole cause of this? Injustice. Oil spillage polluted the waters needed by the locals. The poor people were not compensated by the big oil companies drilling oil in their own land. To seek justice, they vandalized oil pipelines and kidnapped company works. An endless cycle of chaos occurs when justice and freedom are dismissed.
Protests and rebellion sprout from one seed, injustice and the deprivation of freedom. Freedom from constraints is the one thing salves and those unjustly imprisoned would die for. In the movie, Twelve Years a Slave, Solomon Northup boldly declared, “I don’t want to survive, I want to live”. His succinct profession encapsulates his desire for freedom. This injustice is so awful it is called an ‘inhumane’ act-slavery.
Presidents worldwide agree with Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who was quoted on the 10th of July, 2015. He said, according to the 9pm news, “justice is the only way to curb corruption and maintain law and order in the country”. The president of Nigeria understood his people’s plea.
Professor Wole Soyinka, an icon we gather to celebrate today captures the importance of justice and freedom in his succinct words “for me, justice is the prime condition of humanity”.
Every man and woman yearn to be treated equally and defend their rights despite their status of occupation. The market woman, that truck-pusher, that janitor should have a voice and a say.
Humanity is blessed with free will. Take it away and they cease to be human, they become animals or worse.
One look at imperfect man and one way conclude that this is a lost cause, for many lives have been lost in the fight for justice and freedom. But justice and freedom are so essential that without them humanity would crumble. The shards left by their absence would be too many to turn back the clock.
As always, the solution is in the heart of the problem. Imperfect man must be redeemed to allow justice and freedom reign. Not the government, not my employer, not my friend, but I, I must begin with me.
The child who learns in an impartial environment and is made free, excels far better than any child forced to learn and in an environment filled with chains and unjust treatment.
How can justice live in the heart of a corrupt world, where for a meager sum of hundred Naira, a deadly vehicle could be allowed to pass through a checkpoint without an actual check?
How can man be free in a world where prosperity is attained by depriving others of their freedom, where judge wields the sword but forgers to put on the blindfold and hold perfect scales?
Humanity will testify that a good society, a happy world can only exist where the just and free exist.