Justice is another of the four virtues of the Stoics. They believe in doing the right thing. Cicero is believed to have introduced the term “summum bonum”, which means the highest good. Both religious and secular philosophy embraces this tenet in some form.
Yet I have failed in doing the right thing many times in my decision making. Rather than the highest good, I have made decisions that have only benefited myself. In my youth, these decisions may have given me a brief period of laughter but had negative consequences on many others.
Although I don’t make these kind of decisions anymore, much of the injustice I have contributed to in my adulthood has usually involved inaction or an action with good intention but in the wrong direction. While not necessarily beneficial to me, I have not taken action toward the greatest and highest good in some cases. In others, I follow a path I believe to be going towards the highest good, only to realize later that the path I am following has taken me off course.
These hiccups are natural, I have come to learn. We need to be able to forgive ourselves for inaction when action was warranted, and seek within ourselves an ability to bring ourselves to action in the future. We also need to have the courage to admit the path that we sometimes follow is not taking us in the right direction, and that we need to correct our course to find the justice that needs to be found.