Sunday, 16 September 2012

Judging On The Journey

It is easy to condemn a man based on the mistake he has made. It is better to judge him by the journey he took to get to that error. So why don't we do that? Why don't we analyse the decisions, influences and circumstances that drove someone to that mistake? Because if we did, we fear that we would be a part of the path that individual took to get to their sinful situation and chances are, our fears would prove to be justified.

There is a tale I know of where an individual who did something wrong. It was easy to label his actions as unacceptable and indeed they were. He had no excuse for what he did and to be fair, he didn't reach for any. He acknowledged what he had done and went about trying to fix it before asking for justice to be administered to himself. To be honest, when I heard his story, I felt sorry for him. Obviously I am vague about the details to protect him but he was not cowardly about facing the justice that was required. He had no complaints about what happened to him and if anything, he felt he was dealt with lightly. Yet he feels a degree of antagonism towards the ordeal because he feels that there are parties involved who have got away without recrimination, even though their failures contributed to his downfall.

You see, no one just does something wrong. There is this stunted notion that someone chooses a little bad thing and that starts them down this path. It is a convenient concept that distances us from the process. Someone does something bad because something happens to them and gives them just the reason to do the negative thing. Sure, we can sit on our high horse and say "They should be the bigger man" but it is never that simple. You have to ask whether the external factor really had to exist. It could be heartbreak caused by someone being inconsiderate, inaction brought on by ignorance and inconvenience, or even lack of support, gratitude or  respect. Whatever it was, it is rare that those external things were justified or even close to right.

The easy thing to do is condemn the person in the madness of moment but in doing that, we isolate those who we judge in an attempt to distance ourselves from any potential responsibility or involvement. I was once taught that a wise man learns from his mistakes, the wiser man learns from someone else's mistakes. Maybe we would be wiser to see the crime of a man as a chance to assess our own shortcomings. Not only could we eliminate or at least reduce future instances of it but the accused would take solace in the fact that everyone is willing to stand up and be counted.

Someone's degradation and indeed their rehabilitation is not done alone. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes a similarly sized cast to drive a man or woman to do something despicable. I don't think we should withdraw the necessary justice that should be meted out on that individual. However, I do believe that we should assess where we fell short. I can't tell you how many times a kind word or a thoughtful act has  stopped me from doing something silly. Whether it was an act of omission or commission, once judgement is passed on the individual, the trial on the markers in his road to ruin should start. It is the least we owe to the sinner of the situation because while he may have failed us, somewhere along the way, we will have inevitably failed him.

One fails, we all fail. We will be a better and braver society when we accept that. That will only happen when we judge a man's mistakes by the emotional journey he took to get there.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

A Dark Comfort

There is an inconvenient truth out there that most people do not wish to speak of. It is because it is filled with dark connotations, the kind that are instantly associated with evil and yet to those who embrace it, the concept is actually justified, in fact, a manifestation of justice itself.

It is the concept that things like anger, revenge and hate are acceptable. A dark comfort to those who have been plunged into misery, pain and betrayal. The majority will not only reject such a notion but condemn it. Yet they are those who forget that sometimes such things are the only thing that keep people going. I know this from personal experience. Not to turn this into an article that is "woe is me" but there have been days that my anger and indeed my hate has driven me to do something. It is a bad motivation, no doubt about that, but it actually yielded better outcomes than times I let those situations overwhelm me to the point of depression and misery.

You see, anger drives someone on. It is an emotion that provokes action and it is always better to act than be acted upon. The former is powerful and the latter is powerless. When someone is made powerless, they are enslaved to the grievous actions of others and their misery is compounded. I believe it is a false notion that just because someone feels down due to another person's actions that they will then actively encourage misery to come their way. What happens is akin to a bullying routine on a school playground, where the victim is seen to take the punishment and it is entertaining, so it is done again and again because it is fun for those who dish it out. It only comes to a stop when the victim fights back. The bullied kid takes a swing at their tormentor and the bullying ends (or at least transfers to another person).

I coined the phrase "People who say revenge doesn't make you feel better are doing it wrong." Let me tell you, it is not a flippant remark. It is a difficult thing to those who have not embraced it. Fools will suggest that such negative actions are what those who afflict us are after but I don't believe that. When someone hurts you, they want you to feel hurt and put in your place. They don't want you to rise up and fight back. Grant them your submission and they are the victors. The balance will not be redressed. They will not suffer. They won't pay. They won't learn. They won't stop.

This is not to advocate an "everyone should have a go" policy when it comes to revenge. It is merely to illustrate when those who have had so much done to them that they feel cornered by the misguided or wicked actions of others, the justification for negative reprisal grows stronger. Not only that, it becomes something that isn't driven by pain but is the only means of comfort, a dark comfort to the wounded soul.