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Published:May 23rd, 2012 10:49 EST
Just or Unjust, Where do you draw the line?

Just or Unjust, Where do you draw the line?

By Vincent Gonzalez

Actions occur with a variety of different methods of intend, each one justified usually by some ancient code of convictions or set of principles bestowed upon us over the course of our lives; leading us overtime to accept the things that our predecessors deem valid of merit.  In our daily lives, we encounter obstacles that come in all shapes and sizes. How we go about in overcoming these obstacles is what determines if our ancestors work paid off in their attempt to mold us into how they perceived for us to act. Usually people act according to their own situation and if an individual feels that he has the ability to get away with it, then who`s to stop him?   


We find the same situation in Plato`s tale of the Ring of Gyges, where basically the crux of the tale is if given some type of power (in the story it`s a magic ring), both the unjust man and the just man would act unjustly: claiming that people only act justly under compulsion. The story would have you believe that people are people, and that all living beings desire more than what they are actually due: though the story does consider that there is the possibility that someone might decline this power to perform misdeeds. Though the story goes on to claim that that person would be praised above all else, secretly that person would be vilified by the surrounding community. Some might even go onto to say that that person is a fool for not using the power at their possession.

From the onset, the argument would have you believe that the unjust man would obviously abuse his power and that the just man would act with good intend. Yet, as you further attempt to analysis the subject you begin to notice it`s hard to know for sure if the just man is actually just. In order to determine for sure if the just mans` heart is true you`d be forced to put him through a set of tests, assessing his nobility along the way. You would have to determine if the just man is acting justly for the sake of justice or merely for the sake of his reputation and the perks it comes with. The challenge for the just man is whether he will act with moral even if he doesn`t have the fear of being caught or punished.

As best said by Ray Bradbury, "Sometimes the man who looks happiest in town, with the biggest smile, is the one carrying the biggest load of sin. There are smiles & smiles; learn to tell the dark variety from the light. The seal-barker, the laugh-shouter, half the time he`s covering up. He`s had his fun & he`s guilty. And all men do love sin, Will, oh how they love it, never doubt, in all shapes, sizes, colors & smells. Times come when troughs, not tables, suit appetites. Hear a man too loudly praising others & look to wonder if he didn`t just get up from the sty. On the other hand, that unhappy, pale, put-upon man walking by, who looks all guilt & sin, why, often that`s your good man with a capital G, Will. For being good is a fearful occupation; men strain at it & sometimes break in two. I`ve known a few.

You work twice as hard to be a farmer as to be his hog. I suppose it`s thinking about trying to be good makes the crack run up the wall one night. A man with high standards, too, the least hair falls on him sometimes wilts his spine. He can`t let himself alone, won`t let himself off the hook if he falls just a breath from grace." The struggle with the just man is how he even was able to be called a just man in the first place. The unjust man can easily carry out his misdeeds secretly and effectively. Given his powers, who`s to say he can`t easily enough use both persuasion and force to achieve his ends. More than likely he is equipped with an arsenal of tools of manipulation, further blessed with wealth, companions and an easily unblemished, though falsified reputation. The unjust man is easily able to establish and maintain control through a dominate, and manipulative approach; producing for himself the fruits of his labor.

Humans are humans, and when it comes down to it we act usually only with ourselves in mind, attempting to accomplish what we believe to be right. Though sometimes we might not have the best intentions in mind, we act according to our own set of beliefs. Staking our claim in the belief that we are doing what`s best for ourselves. Though selfish as this might come off to be, as I`m sure it does, humans lack the restraint of self will. Instead, we embrace this virtue as a fact of life, a badge of honor that we are more than willing to brandish.

In the Ring of Gyges case, it`s hard to tell for sure who would be the happier person given the setup. One might be inclined to consider the unjust man the victor simply based on the fact that he looks more than likely to get away with his lie. In my opinion, that`s probably the main reason he would be consider the winner of this question. Yet, as I further examined the situation I can`t help but consider the third person of this situation, the possibility of a third person who would not take the ring to perform misdeeds.

Its seems to me that the man who abuses the power of the Ring of Gyges has in fact enslaved himself to it, whereas the man who chooses not to use it remains rationally in control of himself, which in the end enables that person to be a happy person. Humans for the most part are inherently selfish, it`s just in our nature. We act according to what we need. We attempt to have compassion for our fellow brethren but usually lack the ability to show it. It`s that plain and simple. It`s not my intention to label us with such a standard but it`s usually how we act for the most part; with only ourselves in mind.  People harbor different morals about practically everything. What leads people to believe in what they believe usually is rooted in their own understanding of the world surrounding them.

Overall, at the end of the day you`re just going to have to figure things out for yourself. Regardless of what anybody else might say, you truly have to look inside yourself and produce solutions to your problems that reflect your own principles. People with a different set of principles and morals interact with the obstacles of their everyday life with a variety of different methods of approach.

Depending on what`s going on in their current lives usually motivates people to act accordingly. So at the end of the day you`re left defending your own action. Whichever it might be, you have to live with the consequences of your actions. As best said by Thomas H. Huxley, "Time, whose teeth gnaws away at everything else, is powerless against truth."