Sunday, January 12, 2014

Justice Denied

Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at
January 13, 2014

                This morning as I heard Patrick Bellegarde-Smith describe “Living Vodou” to Krista Tippett at, I finally connected my thoughts enough to recognize the nub of my logical problem with the idea of “doing justice,” implicit in “struggles against injustice” all around us.  In a justly ordered world, “You get what you deserve.”  The world of giving and receiving justice assumes consensus on what “you deserve.”  Patrick-Bellegarde helped me see the contrast between trying to establish this kind of social order, and trying to accept and respond to “what you get.”  What you get cannot be changed; you may on the other hand come to recognize many options you have what you as a matter of fact have gotten for your efforts or simply for being what you are said to be.
                I accept the Darwinian proposition that the species traits that survive evolution are those that happen to be available to adapt to unforeseen, let alone unplanned, environmental contingency—from weather to war to impoverishment to accommodating diversity of species members’ responses to external stimuli, including our attempts to control one another.  I also recognize the capacity in every human being to defy doing what we want them to or demand that they do as long and however confined as s/he may be confined or physically and emotionally manipulated.  That perversity, that indefatigable capacity to disobey orders, is in itself a source of diversification that strengthens individual and group resilience and resistance to being torn apart from inside and outside ourselves.  In this vodou world view that I share, individuality in the face of pressures to believe and feel rightly instead of wrongly, is a cause for exploration if not celebration.  And as in victim-offender mediation as I have enjoyed it, what people do as a result of having hurt and been hurt by one another lends a greater sense of control and security to all concerned once what now gets done is detached from the wrongness or rightness of what has happened, where past becomes prologue rather than something undeserved that requires fixing by giving and receiving just deserts.  Synergy among species members driven apart by the entropy of distrust requires letting go of notions of what must be done, to focus instead on what each of us might offer next.  Resilience implies acceptance that in the face of violence as in responding to all misfortune, trial and error promises more than trying to make wrongs right.  In the vodou world view I share, justice is beside the point, a distraction from promoting human trust, honesty and resilience.  Love and peace--hal

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