The Other I

May 4, 2011

In revenge for dancing

Filed under: Questions beyond Science — theotheri @ 4:32 pm

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

Mahatma Gandhi

There is apparently an email going around supposedly carrying a photo of Bin Laden’s corpse.  What the email actually is delivering is a virus.

Is the virus an act meant to achieve justice or retaliation?  It increasingly seems to me that the difference between justice and revenge is in the eye of the beholder.  It depends on whether one is on the receiving end.

I don’t say that if my husband, brother, son, lover, daughter, sister, mother or father had died in the 9/11 attacks, I would not be rejoicing.  But although I might not be capable of it, I still think that the greater act is not one of rejoicing at what one considers just retribution.  I do not think we are wise enough to judge with such profound insight as to have the right to exact the death of another.  That power, I think, belongs to God or, if you prefer, to fate.

There is justification, I think, to kill in self-defense.  That is different from killing in retribution, to exact justice, because we know with certainty that someone deserves it.

Whether killing Bin Laden makes us safer is debatable.  Perhaps as a martyr he is now an even more potent symbol.  But still, it may be a legitimate argument that security demanded his death.  Justice isn’t.

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