Like our friend, Mr. Washington, had noticed, the existance of justice makes the difference between civilization, and barbarism; and it is the quality of the justice being dispensed by a society, that tells most of its values.
Because justice is derived from the beliefs of the collective, and acts on its behalf.
To hold the value of justice is, in the simplest of terms, to believe that 'crime should not go unpunished'.
This single line holds much under the surface: first, one needs to acknowledge that there is even such a thing as a crime, which requires a distinction between right and wrong, perpetrators and victims; then, a person needs to believe that all men have free choice - for which they must be held accountable.
Let us now pause for a second, and compare these notions with relativist, liberal-left preachings: they would like us to think criminals are victims themselves, helpless against the 'depravity' of society, and deprived of equal opportunity. They are suffering children who need to be coddled, and 'fixed', rather than human beings who have made conscious choices, that were harmful to others.
Under this world view, there is no room for the actual victims, and they are rarely mentioned.
It is no wonder then, that a liberal judge tells a terrorist that he doesn't understand his own religion, or that when Wikileak's Assange, the infamous attention-seeker, was investigated for charges of rape, other self-serving types, like Michael Moore, rushed to defend him - showing zero regard for justice, and absolutely no care for his victims. Like children in a popularity contest, the only thing that truly mattered, was saving the dubious reputation of their comfortable ally.
Leftists aren't the only ones with skewed ideas of justice. While Obama claims that muslims "share common principles of justice... tolerance, and dignity of all human beings", the truth is they are so full of respect for the dignity of all human rights, that they blame women for being raped. Any female living under sharia-law knows that if she happens to get raped by a man, appealing to a court of law would only bring further punishment upon her.
And if you think this is happening just in backwater islamic countries, guess again.
Benjamin Franklin once said that "without justice, courage is weak". True justice is about balance. It is about human society being mature enough to decide what behaviors it does not tolerate, and courageous enough to punish transgressions against its values. By placing boundaries, and keeping dangerous people in check, honest common folks can go about their lives in peace, fulfilling their personally chosen roles, with the knowledge that if someone crosses the line and harms them, they are not alone. This confidence is a vital part of a healthy society. In post-communist countries, ordinary citizens see laws as unjust, and feel that the only way to get ahead in life, is by breaking them yourself.
Communities flourish on bonds of trust, but trust cannot be built when everyone believes the other is conspiring against him.
Finally, the practice of justice carries an educational value: "crime doesn't pay", which is something all children should learn, as early as possible.
Laws, by themselves, are not enough, and a judiciary system is just that - a system. Judges, lawyers, and lawmakers, who are willing to compromise on values, can turn it all into a travesty. Therefore, firm, standing justice needs to be actively upheld by people who believe in it. The world may not be fair, but we can choose to work towards making it so.
Next Virtue: Liberty