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Most of the times in the world, people can easily be categorized into the good or the bad, according to their actions and speeches. However, there is a difficulty in determining the most ideal and appropriate standard in separating these two very different terms. In which circumstance would one be considered righteous while the other as evil? Ironically, it is hard to state the exact criteria for this distinction. The only way to differentiate the two is mostly based on the experience.

By saying this though, it does not mean that righteousness does not exist at all. Justice is always present in our society. The matter with justice is that people often act as if this concept is not there, when they can easily define what is just and what is not. The same problem with the attitude towards righteousness is depicted in the movie “The Great Debaters.” The plot of the movie is focused on the coach of the debating team of the black-dominant college working to place his team on the equal status as the other white debating teams.

Along with the team’s efforts to overcome discrimination and show that the black people can also do the same level of job as the whites, the movie also shows the social structure of America during the 1930s. Many white Americans tended to discriminate and act harshly towards the black Americans, whom they considered inferior. At the core of discrimination are the white Americans who occupy the high positions in the American society. They make all the laws, rules of life and major decisions. These decisions they make are, of course, centered on the advantage of the whites.

In this part comes the irony of justice I have previously mentioned. The white Americans knew that their actions towards the black Americans were quite unfair and unreasonable; hence they had no reason other than prejudice and hatred to act in such a way. However, the reality of the white people benefiting from the unjust social structure and getting better services led them to thinking that injustice could be continued, as long as they were at an advantage.

The concept of righteousness, which we all know, comes in when one is aware of injustice and tries to fix it by bravely taking part in the journey to justice, no matter what kinds of oppositions he or she gets. Based on the actions of the white people, we can tell their egoistic thoughts dominated the sense of righteousness which, in this case, is the equality for all people in America.
Another corruption of discrimination is that the people usually come to bear hatred towards the side being discriminated. Why would they, if they have done enough to extort their benefits, continue doing inhumane things to the people who have already lost their positions and belongings? The movie shows a part where the lynch mob of white Americans randomly lynches a black person. By the look of their faces, one can get the feeling that these people are truly enjoying the scenery of torture. We can assume that because the law does not impose restrictions on these brutal actions, as long as they are performed by the superior, these people are even more motivated to torment the black Americans.

Apart from the historical situation, we should note that the path to the righteousness is in bravery of allowing oneself to be at a disadvantage. When injustice dominates our society, we are prone to believe in the unjust beliefs as they consume up the majority. The true righteousness appears when one successfully distinguishes justice from wrong. Though it might be unintentional, people often ignore the truth out of their self-consciousness. Gradually, they become the dominant evil, covering up justice and letting the oppressed continue to be the oppressed. Only during times like this are the oppressed required to stand up and alter what is wrong, or never would they be able to distinguish themselves as righteous.

When the Wiley School debate team encounters their first white opponents on the topic of discrimination, the one and only female member of the team, Samantha Booke, strongly counters the opponent’s statement that the time of equality would not be today. In reply to this, she questions the opponent on exactly what day would be the day for the equality. She says,

“…but my opponent says today is not the day for whites and coloreds to go to the same college, to share the same campus, to walk in the same classroom. Well, would you kindly tell me when is that day gonna come? Is it gonna come tomorrow? Is it gonna come next week? In a hundred years? Never? No, the time for justice, the time for freedom, and the time for equality is always, is always, right now!”

Samantha asserts that the actions must be taken right at this moment, or else it would be impossible for equality to be carried out.Nonetheless, we must never forget that even the people who are being discriminated can become the evil. A lot of this transition occurs when these people forget the status they are in and try to blend in with the group they consider as “relatively superior.” However, by doing so they do not realize that their actions are making them even more cowardly and immoral. Even though these people might be accepted by the superior, they have higher chances of being used as a connection between what the so-called leaders and the followers. In a way, they are making themselves fall into a trap they have set, failing to overcome the actual discrimination.

The only way of overcoming this is fighting against the unjust. In the movie, the quote by St. Augustine, “An unjust law is no law at all,” is often said by the characters. It is true that any law should be equal to everyone, which, of course, includes both the whites and the blacks. Even further on, the terms “white” and “black” or any other descriptions based on skin color should be less frequently used in a way that is very discriminatory. Any law has a duty to ensure the safety and rights of every citizen who belongs to a country. If the law itself discriminates against people, the whole society would become prejudiced. Under the unjust law, people are guided to a wrong way of treating, which is shown much in the movie.

The reality of the current society where some laws are still biased might seem less intense in a way. However, if you look straight into each aspect of life, you can easily identify how the law is disadvantageous to certain groups. Even the basic necessities in one’s life, including the health service, education opportunities and political rights, are often lopsided. As a result, the difference in the primary opportunities one can get contributes to poverty in one’s nation.

The lack of opportunities from the start gradually boosts people’s efforts to strive for just law. It is important that the consciousness of oneself needs to recognize the reality where everyone is truly equal. Even though the efforts required to establish just law might be hard and often involve several sacrifice, it is a duty to be completed. Certainly, evil cannot last forever; it always has its limitations on how much it can degrade others in a negative way. Therefore, the oppressed is absolutely capable of achieving equality and putting the righteousness to take over the evil.

Overall, the distinction between righteousness and evil cannot be straightly determined from the actions, rather we should consider one’s intention and conscientiousness before we conclude anything about oneself. In a way, it is important for people to be aware that they are always at the verge of doing evil deeds, which are prone to be unintentional at a lot of times. And if, by any chance some people are to be treated with inequality, they have a right to take back what they have lost, since no other people than themselves can determine “true justice”, especially if the majority is subjugated by immorality.



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