A Sisyphean Battle?

A Sisyphean Battle?

King Sisyphus was among the craftiest, wisest and most prudent of mortals in Greek mythology. He broke a number of divine rules most notable of which was to put Death - who is personified by Thanatos - in chains. This annoyed Zeus because wars had lost their "fun"; People were not dying. Zeus then dispatched the God of War Ares who captured Sisyphus and released Thanatos. Zeus, in a display of his power, punished Sisyphus for his deceitfulness by forever compelling him to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down.

Today, Sisyphean has come to mean "a task that can never be completed", or "a pointless pursuit". Over the years, the Myth of Sisyphus has been interpreted by a number of philosophers; Some have suggested that it "symbolizes the vain struggle of man in the pursuit of knowledge". Albert Camus saw it as the "personification of the absurdity of human life, [where] the struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart".

I believe that justice is the ultimate Sisyphean battle. Of course, we have to distinguish between justice and that which is commonly perceived as justice - namely revenge or retribution. Justice can be defined as the eternal struggle to establish and to maintain fairness and harmony in any given society and among all societies. Punishment after the crime, even when proportionate and fairly applied to all, does not fully encapsulate the notion of justice that is embedded in our being. We are forever compelled to roll the boulder of justice up the hill, knowing full well it will roll back down. Here is Abraham Lincoln's take:
  • It is the eternal struggle between these two principles - right and wrong - throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity, and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, "You toil and work and earn bread, and I'll eat it". No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.
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