Punishment and Mercy


From Reuters: Suspects on run from Yugoslav war crimes tribunal
“Radovan Karadzic, one of the world’s most wanted men, has been arrested and is facing extradition to the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague on two counts of genocide.”

From the New Zealand Herald: Bosnian Serb war crime suspect Radovan Karadzic arrested
“If Karadzic is extradited, he would be the 44th Serb suspect extradited to the tribunal. The others include former President Slobodan Milosevic, who was ousted in 2000 and died in 2006 while on trial on war crimes charges.”

Whether or not this man committed these crimes, the importance of this story is that there is an international body that can (like a local judicial department) remand individuals to trial. We can only hope the standard of justice is higher than many local and national tribunals . . .

Edmund Burke once said, “All that is needed for evil to prosper is that good men do nothing.”

Some folks, living on a byway of the pacifist movement, feel we shouldn’t have criminal courts. What they propose we do with inveterate abusers of human rights can vary widely from individual to individual.

Here’s what Wikipedia gives as varieties of pacifism:
“Pacifism covers a spectrum of views ranging from the belief that international disputes can and should be peacefully resolved; to calls for the abolition of the institutions of the military and war; to opposition to any organization of society through governmental force (anarchist or libertarian pacifism); to rejection of the use of physical violence to obtain political, economic or social goals; to the condemnation of force except in cases where it is absolutely necessary to advance the cause of peace (pacificism); to opposition to violence under any circumstance, including defense of self and others.”

Obviously, some forms of pacifism can tolerate judicial proceedings.

My best analogy for why such institutions are needed is straight from child-rearing.

If a child killed a cat, should the parents just be really extra nice to the kid and refrain from punishing him?

Well, if parents want to protect the cat community, not to mention other humans (there are teens who’ve been sent to prison for murder), it may be the highest form of mercy to use caring but strict punishment…

Do we just look the other way if a human is suspected of murdering thousands of our fellow humans or do we put that individual on trial and, if they’re found guilty, punish them for the sake of the Human Community?

“It is perhaps a truism to say that the exercise of unfettered national sovereignty is a major obstacle to the safeguarding of the human rights of all peoples… Despite the establishment of international standards for human rights, many nations cling to the view that respect for those rights should be granted or withheld at the discretion of national governments.
“A second obstacle is the lack of adequate mechanisms to enforce adherence to the provisions of the Conventions. International human rights standards are not legally binding on all governments, and compliance, even by those states that have ratified specific conventions, is voluntary… In addition, international criminal jurisdiction for crimes against humanity and for flagrant violations of internationally recognized human rights should also be invested in a permanent body.”

Bahá’í International Community, 1993, Jun 09, Obstacles to Progress in Human Rights

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Can Youth Save Our World ?


Today I want to honor the youth of the world by introducing a youth from China.

From OneWorld and Mercy Corps: The World’s Youngest Principal – 17-year-old Zhang Yong
“Before the earthquake, he was a student at one of the schools here in Jin Hua. That changed immediately in the disaster’s aftermath: he was asked by displaced families to help create a temporary school. He gathered 15 volunteers, 13-17 years old, to get started.”
“‘Our goal is to keep these kids safe and on a routine, so they don’t forget their studies or what life was like before the earthquake.’ Zhang Yong said.”
“We’re proud to work with determined, energetic individuals like Zhang Yong — local leaders who are full of resolve to not only rebuild, but also care for their communities when it’s needed most.”

What were you doing to help your fellow humans when you were 17?

I was trying to figure out the difference between my minister father and God and that challenge made everything else a total confusion.

When did it dawn on you that helping others is one of the most spiritual things you can do?

It took me over 60 years to get the idea from my head to my heart.

Can you imagine adolescents doing things that most folk think are just for adults?

I can because I’ve known a few.

How do you think youth can be helped best to understand the world?

How do you think adults can be educated to accept the power and creativity of youth?

“A spring wells up at the foot of the mountain:
The image of YOUTH.
Thus the superior man fosters his character
By thoroughness in all that he does.

“A spring succeeds in flowing on and escapes stagnation by filling up all the hollow places in its path. In the same way character is developed by thoroughness that skips nothing but, like water, gradually and steadily fills up all gaps and so flows onward.”
I Ching

“The cause of universal education deserves the utmost support, for no nation can achieve success unless education is accorded all its citizens. Such an education should promote the consciousness of both the oneness of humanity and the integral connection between humankind and the world of nature. By nurturing a sense of world citizenship, education can prepare the youth of the world for the organic changes in the structure of society which the principle of oneness implies.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1992 June 06, Earth Charter

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Mercy . . .



Just a brief exploration of mercy from a few of the world’s religions and spiritual traditions:

Mercy is what we get when faults are overlooked.

That which Allah openeth unto mankind of mercy none can withhold it; and that which He withholdeth none can release thereafter. He is the Mighty, the Wise.
The Qur’an (Pickthall tr), Sura 35 – The Creator

Justice itself can be a Mercy.

God, however, as has been pointed out in the very beginning of these pages, does not only punish the wrongdoings of His children. He chastises because He is just, and He chastens because He loves. Having chastened them, He cannot, in His great mercy, leave them to their fate. Indeed, by the very act of chastening them He prepares them for the mission for which He has created them. “My calamity is My providence,” He, by the mouth of Bahá’u’lláh, has assured them, “outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy.”
Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 115

Sometimes, humans use apparent mercy to entrap others.

Therefore, the truly great man does not injure others and does not credit himself with charity and mercy.
Tao, Chuangtse (Lin Yutang tr)

We certainly could use more human mercy in our world !

Bounty waits on squalid hunger, gifts dispel the suppliant’s fear,
Gold revives the poor and lowly, mercy wipes the mourner’s tear,
Tender care relieves the stricken by the gracious king’s command,
Charity with loving sweetness spreads her smile o’er all the land!
Hindu, Mababharata (R. Dutt, abridged tr)

It’s our duty as spiritual beings to be merciful.

This is the hour when ye must associate with all the earth’s peoples in extreme kindliness and love, and be to them the signs and tokens of God’s great mercy. Ye must become the very soul of the world, the living spirit in the body of the children of men.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 20

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~ Unleash The Life Within ~
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What’s the point?

garden-23.jpg

Someone recently asked me what I thought the point of my writing is.

Here was my response to them:

Suffice it to say that I believe in Spirit over Matter and in One God
Who gives us all we have.

I try to reflect those beliefs in my three blogs and in my books.

The fact remains that my liver was infected with a deadly virus and
I’m doing the treatment for that. I’m also trying to portray what
it’s like to suffer through the Hep C treatment and look ahead to
better days…

Some of my humor is “dark” and I’m aware the drugs do warp things a bit.

I “caught” the virus because, for far too many years, I was not close
to God… But, now that I have it, I can’t just think or pray it away.
God is Merciful but is also Ultimate Justice.

I’m “paying” for a loose lifestyle. Some would call it burning off Karma…

In spite of all the drugs . . .

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O God, my God! I beg of Thee by the ocean of Thy healing, and by the splendors of the Daystar of Thy grace, and by Thy Name through which Thou didst subdue Thy servants, and by the pervasive power of Thy most exalted Word and the potency of Thy most august Pen, and by Thy mercy that hath preceded the creation of all who are in heaven and on earth, to purge me with the waters of Thy bounty from every affliction and disorder, and from all weakness and feebleness.Thou seest, O my Lord, Thy suppliant waiting at the door of Thy bounty, and him who hath set his hopes on Thee clinging to the cord of Thy generosity. Deny him not, I beseech Thee, the things he seeketh from the ocean of Thy grace and the Daystar of Thy loving-kindness.Powerful art Thou to do what pleaseth Thee. There is none other God save Thee, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous.

– Bahá’u’lláh

(Compilations, Baha’i Prayers, p. 84)