Justice and peace

Nausica Manzi

As soon as the first ray of a new sun brightens up the world, the warrior raises his head and blows a trumpet announcing the victory of peace.

While a dragon still breathes but lies defenceless and defeated on the ground, the fierce, focused gaze of a warrior with angel wings is reflected on the blade of a sword that, cleaving the air, liberates and distinguishes good from evil. In the silence, the victorious fighter is weighing numbers and words, mind and heart, on a scale; and, as soon as the first ray of a new sun brightens up the world, the warrior raises his head and blows a trumpet announcing the victory of peace.

The warrior in question is the archangel Michael who, with his symbols, according to biblical tradition, led the celestial militia against Lucifer in the battle of Good versus Evil. Michael and Lucifer: one a strict angel, the other a rebel, one the symbol of good, the other the resilient dragon of evil, one the balance of justice, the other the fire that threatens it. So what does this battle between good and evil represent today?Who is the archangel of peace? What are peace and justice today?


Justice, archangel Michael’s scales, is a civil virtue based on λόγος, characterised by fragility and insecuritas. We also find these characteristics within the human being’s soul is always falsely strong, self-obsessed specifically because it is fragile, destined to be insecure of itself because it forgets its potential and the importance of others, hence of the hope and faith committed to the society in which it is found. 

Peace, on the other hand, represents the conservation of order, both at the level of being and action; it is an ontological foundation that also serves as a starting point for ethics. In addition, it represents a common desire everywhere and in any context, whether among evildoers or in the tranquillity of one’s own home, or whether in one who hates or in one who loves, “there is no one who does not want to possess peace”[1]. The purpose is the same, but the manner and the way to achieve it changes: so we could say, by paraphrasing Augustine of Hippo as well, that peace is the radical tendency for which every subject is morally responsible. That is why there are many ways of saying peace, but it is a common desire, a direction that is closely linked to the concept of community and justice.

Augustine defines peace as an accomplished order, as an overall picture in which what matters is that all things are brought back to a precise design: order is thus a tidy arrangement of the manifold or the orderly stabilisation of difference. 

With sword and scales, above the defeated but still alive dragon of evil, such an establishment is what Michael accomplishes after the battle for good: the establishment of the manifold. It is what makes one ponder when thinking of the problem of conscience, of discernment and therefore of change, and conversion. 

In society, good and evil constantly challenge each other and generate turmoil within relationships and also within individuals. Therefore, in this eternal struggle, the foundation of conscience seems to be justice understood as an order of the manifold, that is, as peace, ‘tranquillitas ordinis‘. The movement of Archangel Michael’s sword thus represents the discernment of all consciousness, the choice, giving orders, the seeking of peace and awareness, and the balance is thus justice as the order of the manifold.

Since, in its tidied disorder, each individual is made up of uniqueness and multiplicity. Since the very community, of which he is a part, forms him and delineates his contours from birth, this order is also reflected in society and gives rise to the so-called State.  For Cicero, a state was a thing of the people, as a group of men governed by law and communion of interests: without these, there was no justice either. 

Therefore peace, the sword of the Archangel Michael that does not kill but brings about a new order in the crisis, is the foundation of justice and, consequently, of an exterior state. One which is made up of a group of men, of a community, and, as the Archangel himself teaches in his quest, of an interior one; that is, a state of mind, modus essendi, tranquillity of soul. 

State-creating justice makes the transition from the ethical to the more political dimension evident – the inner state adding up to the inner one – thus incisively emphasising the link between man’s interiority and his society, as well as the value of sharing as well as the negative stage for one’s complete rebirth. This is why even though Lucifer, the rebel angel, the defeated dragon, remains alive: positivity does not occur without negativity and vice versa. Good and evil are related dimensions, paradoxically one needs the other, but good is original and radical, whereas evil is trivial and baseless. Therefore, justice is the overabundance of love that connects these dimensions, which, like a sword that swings only to protect, and like a balance that, by sifting and caressing souls, enlightens hearts, founds an external state of laws and ordinances that are the image of every conscience, of every human face. The fundamental phenomenon of the state, as that of justice, in particular, is hence proximity: the human eye founds community and responsibility, it is by meeting that clarification that a new existence comes into being. Every human eye in our contemporary society is thereby Michael, the Archangel, eternally fighting the battle against evil to teach evil what justice is, i.e. overflowing love that gives discernment, awareness and conversion to the whole of society.

Any justice that recalls Archangel Michael’s quest, and thus takes on the form of love, is a utopia in today’s world. Nevertheless, conversion is feasible: any ”rebel angel” will be able to redeem themselves before the sword of justice, which mirrors one’s own and others’ faces, reminding one always of the need for peace hidden in one’s inner self. It is only by living, every day, that one is reminded of this mission of love.

In conclusion, this peace is a yearning of the conscience and society as a whole, this ethical state that stems from a glance that disrupts ordinariness by also giving it a new meaning is every human being’s role in contemporary society: to develop non-indifference to the public sphere, to be a builder of an ethical and just state to the point of keeping it in one’s glance supported by a community of which each one is always the first architect.

In today’s eternal struggle between good and evil, in search of true justice, every human being is thus the archangel, leader of an overwhelming love mission and herald of the music of the victory of peace.

[1] Translated from Augustine of Hippo, The city of God, edited by Luigi Alici, Bompiani editori, Milano 2010, book XIX, 12, 1, (p. 960).

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