There is no justice without sharing, for justice is about more than the self.
- Fine sermons have been preached on the text that those who have should share with those who have not, but he who would act out this principle is speedily informed that these beautiful sentiments are all very well in poetry, but not in practice. “To lie is to degrade and besmirch oneself,” we say, and yet all civilized life becomes one huge lie. We accustom ourselves and our children to hypocrisy, to the practice of a double-faced morality. And since the brain is ill at ease among lies, we cheat ourselves with sophistry. Hypocrisy and sophistry become the second nature of the civilized man. But a society cannot live thus; it must return to truth or cease to exist. [Pyotr Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread (1892), Chapter 1, “Our Riches”.]
- If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. [Mother Teresa]
- There is nothing like a shared interest to draw people together. [E.A. Bucchianeri, Vocation of a Gadfly (Baltha Publishers, 2018).]
- When we share love, love multiplies. [attributed to Mihail Militaru]
When John Lennon imagined a future of “all the people sharing all the world,” he did not mean that some should work while others leeched off the fruits of their labors. Lennon accumulated wealth and lived very well. His vision means that we must all share the world’s resources, recognizing that each of us is here by the grace of birth and that the wealth we enjoy is a product of thousands of years of human innovation in which we played no role at all.
This conception of justice recognizes both the virtues and the limits of free enterprise. It demands social, political and legal rules that continually renew the opportunity to compete and thrive, while simultaneously rewarding work and innovation. It is a balance, which requires sound judgment and a kind spirit, not a dogma capable of rigid implementation.
Greed is a vice, not a value. Working hard and enjoying the fruits of our labors is a value but limits are necessary. An ethical life is not a Monopoly game, in which someone accumulates all the assets and leaves everyone else with nothing. How fair the rules may have seemed to be is not the ultimate test of justice; the consequences must be evaluated and continually re-evaluated. If people are left with nothing, they have no practical future opportunity and few means by which to succeed. Such a state of affairs does not generate future prosperity but instead leaves most people struggling to survive. By such means do great nations decline, as appears to happening in the United States today.
A humane conception of justice recognizes these truths. The binding principle is that justice demands that the means of attainment must be adjusted continually to ensure that the opportunity to live well is broadly shared.
The intent of affirmative action programs in the United States was to correct centuries-old practices of unfairness against African-Americans and other minority groups. No solution is entirely fair. For centuries, the dominant population groups systematically oppressed others. For decades after those practices were declared illegal, de facto discrimination continued. While members of my race justifiably feel a sense of unfairness in being placed at a disadvantage because of this history, the intent of affirmative action programs was to afford shared opportunity to members of minority groups whose forbears had been systematically denied those opportunities. How many more decades or centuries would have gone by before American culture arrived at a fairer system of interaction, which truly afforded shared opportunity, if it would ever have come about at all? We will never know because it was only after affirmative action became the law of the land that these changes occurred. Inevitably, people on both sides of the divide suffer for the sins of their forebears. Though affirmative action laws generated a backlash, the progress made in achieving a more equitable social arrangement with groups that had long been subjected to discriminatory treatment makes this chapter in our history an important part of our narrative.
- Terry H. Anderson, The Pursuit of Fairness: A History of Affirmative Action (Oxford University Press, 2004).
- Ira Katznelson, When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America (W.W. Norton and Company, 2005).
- J. Edward Kellough, Understanding Affirmative Action: Politics, Discrimination, and the Search for Justice (Georgetown University Press, 2006).
- Richard D. Kahlenberg, The Remedy: Class, Race, and Affirmative Action (Basic Books, 1996).
- Charles M. Lamb, Housing Segregation in Suburban America Since 1960: Presidential and Judicial Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2005).
- John D. Skrentny, The Minority Rights Revolution (Belknap Press, 2004).
- John David Skrentny, ed., Color Lines: Affirmative Action, Immigration, and Civil Rights Options for America (University of Chicago Press, 2001).
- Vincent van Gogh, Man and Woman Sharing a Meal (1885)
- Claude Monet, Green Park in London (1871)
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Jazz at the Philharmonic: marvelous musicians, sharing the limelight, their egos mainly checked at the door. “Devised by record producer Norman Granz back in the 1940s, Jazz at the Philharmonic brought together mainstream jazz artists with the radical forces of bebop, and lead to the founding of the classic jazz record label, Verve. Beginning with ground-breaking multiracial tours of the USA, Granz was soon organising overseas tours under the JATP banner that brought the greatest jazz musicians of the day to concert venues around the world to perform spotlight sets and impromptu jam sessions.” The project continued for many years after that. Concerts include:
- Esquire All-American Jazz Concert, January 18, 1944 (118');
- Charlie Parker 1949 Jazz at the Philharmonic (68');
- The Complete Jazz at the Philharmonic on Verve, 1944-1949 (634');
- Frankfurt, 1952 (47');
- J.A.T.P. in Tokyo Live at the Nichigeki Theater 1953 (144');
- J.A.T.P. Stockholm ’55 (50');
- Jazz At The Philharmonic: Blues In Chicago 1955 (47');
- Jazz at the Philharmonic Seattle 1956 - Set One (78');
- BBC 1967 (95');
- J.A.T.P. in London, 1969 (95').
A piano trio is a small community, consisting of a pianist, a violinist and a cellist. Unlike a string quartet, where the first violinist usually takes the leading part, the piano trio form lends itself to a value such as equality. However, British sensibilities are too reserved for that. Piano trios from British composers more nearly evoke a more fundamental sense of sharing.
- In John Ireland’s piano trios, three gentle voices share good music: Piano Trio No. 1 in A Minor – Phantasie Trio (1909) (approx. 12-13’); Piano Trio No. 2 in E Major (1917) (approx. 13-15’); Piano Trio No. 3 in E Major (1938) (approx. 26-30’).
- Similarly in Arthur Foote’s piano trios:, Piano Trio No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 5 (1884) (approx. 32’); Piano Trio No. 2 in B-flat Major (1908) (approx. 21’).
- York Bowen, Piano Trio in E minor, Op. 118 (1900) (approx. 11’).
- Billy Bang, “Bang On!” (1997) (62’): “Bang's trademark acerbic but animated style is peppered with the violinist's inner dialog.”
- Nomfusi, “The Red Stoep” (2021) (46’), “is steeped in Nomfusi’s traditional roots with stories of growing up in the township and childhood memories influenced by her single mother’s spirituality as a traditional healer.” The title refers to the veranda of a house, a gathering place and a place for sharing and community.
From the dark side:
- Das Rheingold (The Rheingold), WV 86A (1854) (approx. 140-148’), opens Richard Wagner’s ring cycle. The opera tells the story of the quest for the golden ring, a metaphor for striving, which is sullied by ambition and greed. Top performances were conducted by Krauss in 1953, Keilberth in 1955, Solti in 1958 and Rattle in 2015. Boulez, Fischer, Janowski and Schønwandt conducted video recordings.
From the dark side:
Two hostile troops on a field of battle are two wrestlers. It is a question of seizing the opponent round the waist. The one seeks to trip up the other. They clutch at everything: a bush is a point of support; an angle of the wall offers them a rest to the shoulder; for the lack of a hovel under whose cover they can draw up, a regiment yields its ground; an unevenness in the ground, a chance turn in the landscape, a cross-path encountered at the right moment, a grove, a ravine, can stay the heel of that colossus which is called an army, and prevent its retreat. He who quits the field is beaten; hence the necessity devolving on the responsible leader, of examining the most insignificant clump of trees, and of studying deeply the slightest relief in the ground. [Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (1862), Volume II – Cosette; Book First – Waterloo, Chapter IV, A.]
From the dark side:
- Edgar Lee Masters, “Schroder the Fisherman”