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©Simon Chilembo 2017

Thinking about it as a grown up man, I’ve found that in my social interactions at all levels, I am driven by only two concepts: fairness and justness. The thesaurus lists the two as synonymous. Operationally, though, I take the liberty of applying “fairness” in relation to the good-bad duality; and “justness” to that of right-wrong.

I postulate, therefore, that if it is fair, it is good. It is uplifting. It is praiseworthy.
If it is unfair, it is bad. It is devious. It is condemnable.

If it is just, it is right. It is life supporting. It is revered.
If it is unjust, it is wrong. It is destructive. It is punishable.

When it comes to my friends, I have found fairness playing itself out in how they have accepted me in the way that I am. They have also allowed me to open doors into my life for them, equally accepting them for what and how they are. With the very closest of my friends, the mutuality of respect for one another’s strengths and fallibilities keeps me awake at night some times. It fills me with ever so much joy.

I have found justness playing itself out in hard times, especially.

It is the constant awareness of inter-personal fairness that keeps the love for my friends alive. Fairness constantly sensitizes me to elements of respect, tolerance, and moral codes cementing our friendship. These elements then extend to form the core of the interplay of justness as we all face and seek to overcome the intrinsic daily challenges of life, working either individually or collectively.

In hard times, when a friend has been overcome by misfortunes of some kind or other, those friends who are just, and able, will come forth and assist in any way deemed necessary. In principle, the friends will be motivated by the desire to help a fallen friend to come back on track and lead a happy and productive life again. Acting this way, they will be displaying moral rectitude, and honour.

Moral rectitude, or integrity, is an internal personal attribute. It reflects a person’s capacity to exercise fairness and justness. It expresses the good in us, our ability to empathise. A lack in this quality manifests itself in anti-social tendencies of, for instance, egotism, envy and spitefulness. The latter tendencies can lead to unjust acts vis-à-vis friendship moral codes, even to the extent of breaking the law.

Honour is external. It comes from the outside as a form of recognition of the good deeds attributable to a person of integrity. Therefore, in a perfect world, integrity serves, while honour acknowledges, and may reward; both occurring in a balanced climate of mutual respect. Bearing in mind that life’s pitfalls face us all equally; albeit in unequal measure and variable spaces and time. One of life’s guarantees is that one day, we all gonna fall. In that case, it should be a given that everybody needs a friend.

Driven by loss of integrity in desperate times, though, some people ever so incessantly push and cross the boundaries of common human decency with extreme insolence: they unjustifiably stab their friends in the backs. Trust betrayed. When justness is insensitively broken, there is no way the centre of a friendship can hold. That is how friendships die.


Simon Chilembo
South Africa
Tel.: +27 81318 5271
June 16, 2017


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