I just finished reading the first version of a very excellent novel (which I saw as a sort of YA novel, possibly the first in a series of novels written with an intended audience of teens). A few aspects of the novel struck me as particularly notable. One of them was the way in which the novel had characters I could relate to a bit too well. Few people that I have gotten to know recently are well acquainted with my fiction, but those who are at least somewhat aware of my blogs will recognize that my fictional protagonists do not stray very far away from my own life and experiences, and many of them wrestle with the same general concerns as I do. This is not necessarily a surprising tendency about authors, as much of the time (though not all of the time) authors will write about what they know best, namely themselves.
There was one aspect of the novel that, without revealing any of the plot, was something that I could relate to very well. Often in life what we survive and endure fires us deep inside in ways that are permanent and serious. We can burn with vengeance, or be poisoned by bitterness, or we can choose to fuel the fires of justice inside of us. The fires of justice do not always burn hot within us, and they do not always make life pleasant or straightforward, but they are one of the reasons why we endure suffering in this life, to make us more just and decent and honorable people. This does not make us perfect, but it does make life more complicated.
Justice is one of those qualities in a person that separates others very strongly into two camps. If we are just, that quality will be well recognized in our kindness and compassion to outsiders. There will be some people who feel a sense of gratitude (and perhaps mistrust) of our kindness, not having known very much kindness in their lives. There will be others who will see the justice that motivates our lives and, after making sure that this justice is genuine and not an act, would seek to become allies and supporters of other just people in common causes against the injustices of this world. There will also be many who profit in some fashion from cruelty and injustice and exploitation, and those people are automatically the enemies of the just. Our choices will give us friends and enemies, all without our prior knowledge, as the way in which we act will prompt others to reveal their character.
Our justice, though, just as easily reveals our own characters. The injustices of this world that we are the most hostile to are those injustices that hit the closest to home. The exploitation we decry the most is that which we can relate to the closest, whether through our own experiments or the experiments of those who we care deeply about. Other injustices will not move us as greatly because they will not hit a sensitive nerve, but those injustices that strike against the core of our identity or point to the darkest moments of our lives, we will be deeply motivated to fight against these evils. And therefore to have people motivated to fight against every evil and to deeply hate evil, there are people who must suffer from those evils. And so we suffer, to add fuel to the righteous fires inside our heart and mind and spirit.