“Justice, the eternal principle of the true relation of man to man, cannot be bought. Money may buy judges, but never—justice. When they tell us that some great corporation, with millions in its control, has bought justice, in verdicts wrongly delivered in its favour, they are incorrect in their statement. Money has bought not justice, but only injustice. If it were mere justice that was desired, money would be unnecessary. It would be a bribe, an insult—but injustice is always willing to pocket money which is powerless to buy justice.” ~ William George Jordan
I’ve often wondered about the sagacity of the counsel given to me on many occasions: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Not one to simply take another’s word for it, I put this concept to the test on a number of occasions while growing up and found it to be helpful in some situations and devastating in others.
Take, for instance, the matter of international travel. When you travel – I mean really travel – and put yourself in unfamiliar situations where you are not quite sure what would be appropriate and what would be rude, doing as the Romans do can make it easier to blend in, to mesh with the local culture and therefore understand it better. I’ve sat through many a meal in foreign countries where the table manners were significantly different than those to which I was accustomed. Observing your hosts or those around you and adopting their approach can prevent the faux-pas that travelers often dread.
On the other hand, doing as the Romans do, can also get you into a lot of trouble if in so doing you contravene truths of which you are aware. Giving in to peer pressure to drink while underage or worse, to drink and drive, for example, can and often does end tragically. If you have to compromise your integrity to fit in, be accepted or gain the approval of another, you are best to remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible or at least find a graceful way to say “no”.
When it comes to the way you relate to money, you needn’t follow the majority. You needn’t be mesmerized by it, worship it or be enslaved by it. You may be given some pretty convincing arguments about it’s rulership over human affairs (“cash is king”), but at the end of the day you cannot buy justice with it, only injustice.
It’s better to be a servant in a state where you’ve maintained your integrity than a king in a world where you’ve lost it.