The Knave of Swords shows up, and what’s the first thing he does? He breaks something — our idea of what’s really true. Suddenly we’re full of doubt. What’s true, and what’s an illusion? Or, what’s a deception? We find that our hearts are in our throats over this question. And what can you do at a time like that?
Answer: Justice — but not what we normally think of as justice. Most people have a quite wrongheaded view of justice, and see it as a matter of people getting what they deserve — punishment and retribution. That’s wrong because first, nobody truly deserves punishment and retribution if you look deeply enough at a matter.
Second, Justice hasn’t appeared today to call on us to judge others or even to judge ourselves. Justice today is here to ask that we act with integrity in the face of our doubts. If we don’t know what the truth is, the best option is to look closely at our own actions and choose to act in ways that are just, evenhanded, fair, moderate, reasonable. Worry about the bridge that you have come to, not the bridge you have not yet come to. The truth will unfold in its own time. Meanwhile, you are still you. Be who you are, and act with integrity. If you are looking for something to cling to in a world in which the truth seems to be shifting rapidly, cling to that: your own ability to be who you are and to react to unfolding events with integrity.
Finally, for those of you who are looking for a more spiritual take on this–notice Justice’s extra arms in this drawing. In this deck, Justice represents the eightfold path of Buddhism, with all that entails: moderation, compassion, perspective, calm, balance. What do extra arms truly represent? Support for those who are suffering. True Justice doesn’t operate with a sword of retribution. True Justice compassionately supports suffering beings as they struggle to come into a state of balance. And those of us who have at times been hurt by suffering beings in their flailings and their struggle would do well to remember this, and to consider: what is the most skillful response to harm? One response is to put a wall between yourself and the transgressor so that you can no longer be hurt. That response is a step up the skillfulness level from simply enabling or letting the person continue to hurt you. But is there a further step, one that goes beyond wall-building into actual HEALING? If so, this further step is where the true path of Justice lies.