All the Good Days in God: Justice and Fairness

Monday, April 27, 2009

Justice and Fairness

Humanity made many steps in developing a utopia civilization, yet people trying to live good lives eventually relies on violence to fix problems. Some think this is because of egotism. The "righteous" feel responsible for maintaining order and must oppress slackers. Some think the problem stems from separation of people groups. If we all had the same religion, language and ethics we would get along. Some think it is human nature. We are hedonistic by nature and maintain communities with a heavy hand. I believe lawlessness and rebellion continue to cycle through the world because of arbitrary punishments associated to laws.

The first five books of the Bible, also know as "Laws," repeatedly mention how laws must be followed. There are blessing for those who follow the laws and consequences for those who scorn the laws. Leviticus expresses this concept several times. Modern society has many issues not addressed in the bible. We must conceptualize proper methods of punishing crimes.

Sacrificing animals appears to be an arbitrary activity. Taking place in four steps: sin, guilt, atonement and fellowship sin occurs when a person commits a sin or crime. Guilt occurs when realizing they committed a sin. Atonement occurs when feeling moved to repent sin. Fellowship occurs when realizing the repercussions of actions and recognizes the ultimate Wisdom of God. How does a person who is innocent or cruelly punished realize the value of the punishment when the punishment is unfair?

Today's laws are often abusive. A person is fined or imprisoned. Some countries offer physical abuse as an alternative to imprisonment. For example they are lashed ten times as opposed to six months in prison. What is learned by this activity?

Vandalism is not directly addressed in the Bible. Punishment is a fine, or caning. They are told, "Don't do it again." They will be hesitant to vandalize property again, yet they have not learned how actions impacted another person. Perhaps they could pay a fine related to paperwork and expenses. Then they clean up their own mess. By removing graffiti they will have to look at the vandalism and meet the home owner. This creates a learning experience where they realize how actions affected another person.

Theft is another issue. The statement "Eye-for-an-eye; tooth-for-a-tooth" is directly related to theft. The solution found in Leviticus recommends the accused is tried before a group of knowledgeable members of the community. Witnesses are available to determine sin. If guilty the person accused gives their property to the person who had property stolen.

A fair punishment directly related to the crime would a thief steal if their property was satisfactory? However, people have attachments to property. It doesn't matter if a Nintendo is replacing an X-Box both parties grow from the experience. The thief appreciates their own property and understand how they made someone else feel. The person who was stolen from enjoys vengeance while playing Nintendo games. The real issues are addressed.

Arbitrary punishments dilute the learning process. Unfair punishment creates a sense of injustice. They must fight for fairness, not only for themselves, for everyone. Oppressors must know they are wrong in order to correct ongoing issue. A divide is created. Judgments come into play and chaos prevails as opposing parties argue. People say justice was served. Other people say the punishment did not fit the crime as they watch their friend or family member suffer. Unfair punishments create and nurture violence.

Watching news is difficult sometimes. A woman is going on the road as a motivational speaker after getting legal approval to stalk and eventually murder a man police never proved murdered her daughter. People create enemies because of differing tastes in music or clothing. People who smoke are constantly accused of doing more than smoking. Commercials and social angst encourage punishment through alienation or rape. The inaction of righteousness is arbitrary. How is anyone able to devise effective punishments for crimes?

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Sin, Guilt, Atonement and Fellowship
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