26.1.16

Matthew 5:43


Whether it's Jesus, Buddha, Ghandi or Martin Luther King Jr - 'loving' your enemy has often been a concept that feels like false hope and idealism in the face of reality. Consider ISIS, Idi Amin, Pol Pot and more generally psychopaths and sociopaths, those men and women who often just want to watch the world burn. If love is wanting and working towards another's happiness, of course we could never fulfil the desire of some of our enemies to wreak destruction and suffering upon us. 

If they can't be rehabilitated or reasoned with, the only love we may be able to show the most dangerous among us is in the principles of justice, a fair trial, and a compassionate incarceration without execution.  For those that argue war criminals, serial killers, terrorists, murderers, and other perpetrators of the most disgusting crimes deserve to die, it would be worth remembering that unless we are willing to engage in exactly the acts the criminal has, not even vengeance can be served. You cannot make a person suffer - an eye for an eye- as they have made others suffer without engaging in monstrosity yourself. Would you torture them slowly as they did their victims? Do you have the stomach for that kind of retribution? 

Logically the debt they owe cannot be paid back to them, no matter how much we loathe the acts they've committed. Even if they were slowly tortured to death - there's no equivalency for a genocide of starvation. If you kill them in any traditional execution, they only swiftly lose their lives. For some that is a terrifying punishment, but many are not afraid or remorseful, only bitter and furious at the injustice of their great motivations being misunderstood. A life without freedom, incarcerated and alone or with similar peers might be the only thing more miserable to them then death. Though if we are measuring punishment by infliction of misery, then once again, we aren't being very loving are we?

So then maybe to love the most violent and chaotic we can allow their lives to run their course in conditions of basic human dignity. If during that incarceration they want to end their lives, in the spirit of decency and respect for their choice we should provide them with humane means to do so. Considering all this then the only 'happiness' or appeasement of their desires might be to simply administer justice onto them in the same measure we would apply to ourselves. A compassionate justice, which I believe is possible.

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