Liberty and Justice for Each

There once was a man who lived in the woods at the base of a beautiful mountain. Older than age, with a penchant for rage, he was hated and feared by the townsmen.

Always this way, the old man had not been. He was once well-respected and liked. Everything changed when, as drunk as the wind, the old man went and murdered his wife.

He’d thought her a thief in the midst of the night, he stood up from the couch and recovered his knife, as if skipping a rock ‘cross a pond he did pitch. The knife stuck in deep in the flip of a switch.

The switch of the light revealed truer than truth, the effect of the cause of the man. Face in his hands, sobbing, weeping, with sounds never heard nor to be heard again.

At the trial insisted the bitter old man that she died at the hands of a thief. Of course, he was right, for on that fateful night, he was not who he was but let into their house, a thief who cared not for what’s moral or right, who convinced him that she was a thief in the night, when instead it was he who stole over himself the good-will and good nature for which he was known all in favor of one night of drinking alone while his wife waited patiently up in their room. She grew tired of waiting, missing her love. So, she walked down the stairs and caressed her man’s hair, walked to the kitchen to warm up some milk, tripped on the empty cans scattered about, woke up the man she was worried about, who thought her a thief without shadow of doubt, and did what he did.

It would have been easy for the man to confess to the crime and be hanged. Easier than living with the pain. Instead, he made sure to curse himself to be tortured for rest of his days, living with the man who killed his wife…without the possibility of retribution. Everywhere he went, there he was.

There is no one-size-fits-all for punishment or corrections. What is the goal of any given response to crime? Is it simply retribution? Maybe that’s enough. Is it to ensure the safety of society? Is that possible? If so, how? At what cost? Is corrections possible? How can you say so? What proof do we have?

Is it necessary to have institutions and governing bodies in place to distribute justice? What is justice? What is the purpose of justice? According to whom? What of disagreements?

Have we come so far as a species only to rely on old infrastructures to decide for us what’s best? We proclaim with pride how advanced and evolved we’ve become – more humanitarian than ever! Why, then, do we have so little faith in ourselves.

From justice to roads to regulations on food, education and more…if we have the capacity to understand and vote on such things, don’t we have the capacity to execute them as well?

In the beginning of the structuring of the United States of America, and for the next dozen decades, it may have been clear that a governing body was necessary. Such a new, amorphous, heterogeneous, diverse collection of people surely did well to be governed loosely, but sufficiently.

Is that necessarily true today? Sure, we are just as much diverse as we once were, but are we still so incapable of peaceably governing ourselves? Moreover, by assuming that our current form of government is at least a little democratic, doesn’t it assume that the people (1) recognize what’s best for themselves, and (2) recognizes other people that agree with them regarding what’s best for themselves?

I only mean to suggest that we humans need to at least consider that we could give ourselves much more credit than we currently do (for actions both right and wrong).

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