Friday, June 6, 2008

Casting out the Kindly Ones

"Justice belongs to those who claim it, but let the claimant beware lest he create new injustice by his claim and thus set the bloody pendulum of revenge into its inexorable motion."
-Gowachin aphorism

Within the framework of society, conflicts between individuals must be effectively managed to insure a cohesion conducive to cooperation. The struggle to reconcile differing interests takes many forms; the most contentious and potentially disruptive may be that of addressing injuries among competing parties.

Unless all participants share a minimum of trust in the system of redress, the impetus provoked by emotional forces towards chaotic impulses threaten to rend the social fabric; as vindictive claws shred the binding ties of community. Fostering faith in such a process depends largely upon a perception of equality and impartiality; a projection of common good that overrides private concerns needs to demonstrate that the low and high share in civic responsibility, irrespective of their social status.

Thus justice compels an evenhanded distribution of punishment and rewards for those engaged in public conflict; an agreed upon framework of rules that limit acts of retribution, and supply a system of compensation for violations of communal law. When this exists, or at least is perceived to exist, maintaining social order remains a matter of application and adjustment; when such a perception fades, the maintenance becomes much more problematic.

For justice to exist, and moreover flourish, it must be valued; not merely with words, but by the allocation of resources in a manner shared by its benefactors and conspicuous in its application. Further, without a demonstration that individual power is subordinate to the demands civic interests, the burden of due process becomes untenable to those whose lack the influence to manipulate such a system.

Thus, an unwillingness to provide adequate funds to support justice or a lack of moral will to enforce justice lead to a erosion of public faith in the system, and portend a regression to more atavistic forms of redress. Taking the law into one's own hands means removing it from the social grasp, and shifting the grip from common good to individual benefit. Such a shift opens the way to the passionate clutches of vengeance, displacing the hand of due process with the claws of vindictiveness.

When reason is abandoned for a reversion to instinctual fury, the Kindly Ones are cast out from their place of honor, and condemned to roam afield; the spilled blood stains not only the talons they posses, but the digits of all who abandoned their homage.

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