There is no justice for past wrongs. The greatest harm is to the spirit of those still living. Revenge or retribution is a poor substitute. Anyone who can feel better from seeing another conscious entity suffer, perhaps doesn't yet know the meaning of "human". Punishment as an example to other does more harm to the spirit than it does good. The best we can do is to avoid passing the specific anger on to the next generation. Sure, I also sometimes have the urge to see someone suffer for the wrong they did and I sometimes think up some pretty creative scenarios. (Maybe doing it in my mind fills the psychological need.) But I also ask myself (1) what good would it really serve, and (2) who should I really be angry at - the central person, the focus of attention, perhaps the scapegoat, or the culture and conditions of the time that gave this kind of person the power to do what he did. What it finally comes down to is that there is no valid person on whom to focus my anger. Perhaps therefore I "unfocus" it on society as a whole and try to, in effect, destroy the society I'm faced with and replace it with another.

On the other hand, if it's clear that a person has caused great suffering purely to gain his own small pleasure, it doesn't bother me to go to the extreme in making sure that he doesn't do it again. I support anyone available taking this measure as quickly and painlessly as possible. But if it's found that a vigilante acted too hastily and perhaps executed the wrong person, then he should meet the same end. Admittedly, there are some wishy-washy words in there. How do I compare someone's"great" suffering to another's "small" pleasure?

Send me your thoughts.
Dan Robinson, danrob@efn.org, Eugene, Oregon
My home page: http://www.efn.org/~danrob/