Justice Through Their Eyes:A Short Story

Friday, February 28th, 2014

 

They watched in unseen thought from their seats in Abney Park, both reflecting on the goals they had spent their lives working toward. Neither had seen those goals achieved in their lifetime, but others had picked up where they left and their work carried on long after they died.

“However long it took, it seems your vision eventually became reality,” the one on the right remarked.

Her friend knew what she was referring to, the age of technology, but this wasn’t quite what she pictured. “I suppose, but I wish it were used for the purpose I intended, such as achieving your vision.”

Their names were Ada, Countess of Lovelace and Diana, Princess of Wales. Ada had invented the art of computer programing by combining science with poetry, Diana had devoted most of her time to campaigning for social justice for everyone.

“It often is, Ada,” Diana pointed out. “Multiple websites exist specifically for that reason.”

Ada rolled her eyes. “Perhaps, but it is just as often used for the exact opposite. Cyber bullying, goods sold illegally online, human knowledge tainted by people posting lie after lie! Diana, it almost makes me wish I’d left all the work undone!”

Diana reached out to calm her friend. “Ada, think about how much easier your work made mine. To be able to spread ideas to so many places so fast is one of the greatest tools in existence for advancing social justice.”

“That’s just it!” Ada replied. “Technology is a tool, one that has to be used correctly. There are people such as yourself who do use it correctly, but there are also those who take this tool and use it to undo all the good done by those who used it as it was intended. Yes, technology has been used in wonderful ways: making transportation safer, making the environment cleaner, so on and so on, but look what else it’s used for: identity theft, spying, the list goes on and on. It’s even been used to increase the strength of those land mines you yourself campaigned so strongly against.”

Diana had to nod her agreement. “Yes, I know. What you’ve just said was one of the points I tried hardest to make. Complete justice will never be achieved untill everyone puts effort into making it a reality. The world may never see the day when that becomes a reality, but that doesn’t mean progress isn’t being made all the time. A wise person once said “Even though I see nothing but vague cloudiness in the foreground of our being, I fancy I see a bright light a good way further on. And this makes me care much less about the present fogginess.” That quote is what got me through some of my darkest moments.”

Ada smiled at Diana. “Smart, using my own words in a discussion with me.” She suddenly brightened and started buzzing with excitement. “Then it could still happen someday. Everything you worked for, the proper use of everything I worked for, they can still make it happen!”

Diana smiled and nodded.

Ada was ecstatic. “You always know just what to say, Di. I suppose that’s why you were ‘The World’s Princess’.”

Diana reflected on that statement. “Yes, my great gift for empathy,” she said with a strong tone of irony. “Very few people knew the reason behind it, but you and I both know firsthand that the drive to end suffering comes from experiencing suffering.” She looked at Ada earnestly. “What I really needed was your other life’s work.”

Again, Ada knew to what she was referring. “My studies of mental illness.” It was a statement, not a question. This brought her back to the state of lament she had been in a few minutes earlier. “As you said, drive comes from experience. Those studies came out of awareness of a problem in my own thinking. You can’t imagine the rapid ups and downs and ever changing thoughts I went through just in a single day.”

Diana nodded. “I think I can, because I went through them myself. You and I were both forced to keep on brave faces in the midst of immense suffering. Land mines are cruel devices, but they’re nothing compared to sick people having to suffer because no one understands. You, coping with Manic Depressive while trying to find a cure for it; and me, fighting with Borderline Disorder while trying to save others from the agony that caused it.”

Ada looked at the ground. “In my time no one knew anything about such illnesses, and thus they can hardly be blamed for not trying to help, but surely by your time there was sufficient knowledge to at least make an attempt.”

Diana huffed quietly. “A few of them tried, but there were far more who let me go on like that because they couldn’t be bothered to talk anything out with me. At the very least they could’ve showed support instead of pushing me further into the darkness.”

Ada put an arm around Diana. “When I was working on the Analytical Engine with Mr. Babbage, my fondest hope was that it would be used to increase human knowledge on every subject, but now I think I would say my fondest hope is that it would be used to help those who need it. Those who continued my work have made all forms of knowledge readily available to everyone, including how to help someone with problems such as ours. There is no longer any excuse for not trying to help someone you know is in trouble.”

Diana looked up and sat back against the wall behind them. “Selfishness and ignorance,” she said. “If this world ever reaches a state of total justice, it will be because they managed to end those two things.”

“Maybe one day enough people will care to accomplish it,” Ada said.

“Not until everyone commits,” Diana replied. “Not until everyone on this earth cares enough about others to fix the problem.”

They sat quietly and watched as two children ran past playing Tag. The one being chased tripped and fell to the ground. Rather than take advantage of the situation to tag him and get a head start on running, the one chasing him helped him up and let him have a head start running again.

“But,” Diana continued, “The light you saw is still shining.”