Giusto (1)

Lately I’ve had the concept of justice on my mind in the musical context.  The Italian word seen fairly frequently is “giusto,” and for years, I read that as “gusto.”  Not that I passed over the “i” in the word, but I did more or less assume that “tempo giusto” meant something like “play it with gusto, with extra energy, a little more animated, faster.”  What “giusto” actually connotes is a just or rhythmically absolute sense of the strict relationship of tone duration.  I was initially wrong about “giusto,” and in what I’m about to say, I could be on the wrong track, as well.  You decide.

Justice is in the eye of the beholder, couldn’t we say?

I hear a lot of mentions–but not really a lot of talk–about social justice these days. Recently, a student group won in a sort of theme contest over another group because they had the word “diversity” in their theme.  Perhaps the former group would actually have operated with more justice and more compelling sense of living in diversity, but the mere title probably is what won it for the second group.  Shallow, perhaps … but I’ll admit that I don’t know for sure.

Is it possible that we assume things that aren’t in evidence?  For instance, do we assume that Democratic-championed social programs result in social justice and merely decide whether or not we affirm them in the aggregate, when we could be probing at a deeper level?  Do we merely assume that certain people and causes are all about social justice?  And do we assume that the mere darker pigmentation of the epidermis must have resulted in injustice somewhere along the way?

What is social justice, anyway?  Is racism in the category of social injustice?  That seems self-evident.  But for me, the principle of “affirmative action” in this country lies somewhere between just and unjust; the result of trying to be more just has sometimes been blatant injustice.  I have sometimes refused to complete all or part of one of those ubiquitous surveys on job applications–you know, the ones that ask for your race, ethnic background, and gender, etc., framing it all by saying it’s all optional and helps them keep records and will not affect the employment decision if you choose not to participate.  I think it’s about time affirmative action be slanted toward white American males; I do not at all trust that employers have in fact disregarded any lack of participation in these Equal Employment Opportunity surveys.  Further, I am bothered by the appearance of injustice in expressions such as “women and minority applicants are especially encouraged to apply.”

To be continued . . .


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