God Sees the Truth, But Waits

by Leo Tolstoy

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What does "God Sees the Truth, But Waits" tell us about the existence of an unfair system of justice?

"God Sees the Truth, But Waits" tells us that the existence of an unfair system of justice is natural among human beings, given their inherent imperfections. The only true justice for Tolstoy is cosmic justice, the kind provided by God.

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The unfair system of justice presented to us by Tolstoy in “God Sees the Truth, But Waits” is an entirely human creation. As humans are inherently imperfect, it stands to reason that anything they create, including systems of justice, will also be imperfect.

And that's certainly the case with the Russian criminal justice system as presented to us by Tolstoy. It has sentenced an innocent man, Aksionov, to a lengthy period of imprisonment in a harsh, remote penal colony. If this isn't a prime example of unfairness, then nothing is.

Under the circumstances, it's nothing short of miraculous that, instead of becoming bitter at his unjust treatment, Aksionov has instead developed a humble holiness that earns him the respect of prison guards and other inmates.

In effect, one could say that Aksionov has come to understand, during his long period of imprisonment, that human justice is ultimately of no consequence. The only kind of justice that matters is divine justice, cosmic justice, justice provided by God. As God, unlike his creatures, is perfect and so cannot err in his judgments, which are always wise and merciful.

Aksionov, then, is surely right in telling Makar, the man who committed the crime for which he, Aksionov, was wrongly convicted, that God will forgive him for what he's done.

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