|10-12-2012, 08:06 AM||#1|
Joined: Sep 2012
From: dehradun, india
Of Ignorance, Education and Justice
Ignorance is the lack of knowledge and, consequently, the cause of all error. While it is the ignorant that are prone to error and consequent sinfulness, the truly evil ones are those who misuse their knowledge to manipulate the lives of the ignorant for their own selfish interests. They are often successful in their evil intentions because of continuing ignorance among the masses and denial of justice within the community.
There are, of course, the blessed few who are genuine well-wishers of humankind. They, in truth, are the just and the wise. There are also those who, by the grace of God, are born with innate qualities of good sense, perseverance and tenacity, who rise above themselves, their circumstances and their station, through their own effort and free-will. Unfortunately, such occurrences are rare.
The majority of humanity love the bliss of their ignorance, enjoy their superstitions, are gladdened by blind imitation, happily wallow within the stagnant pool of foolishness, are resistive to change and betterment, and are contented to simply exist as their ancestors had done before them and their descendants will continue to exist after them. As humans, they have simply wasted their lives!
This is not just a matter concerning the individual. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Each individual is a link in this huge chain which forms the community, the nation and the entire human race. A single malfunctioning cell within the body can multiply into destructive cancer. So also, a single malfunctioning individual can, if unchecked, adversely affect the entire community.
Just as the entire body is treated or vaccinated and not the isolated cell, so also must entire nations be treated by the greatest of remedies, education! But before treating the disease let us examine the symptoms and resistive tendencies.
The nations of the world are all proud of their separate identity and different culture, their languages, food habits, dress, customs and rituals. Rightly so, for in the garden of the world, beauty is enhanced by variety in culture and background. To be proud of ones own national identity and culture does not require, however, treating others with contempt and hostility, nor does it necessitate assertion of ones own brand of imagined superiority over others.
Rather, in the interest of progress, there must be an atmosphere of mutual respect between the nations, a realization that all are equal even though diverse, as well as an exchange of ideas and technology, a willingness to be of genuine help instead of seeking to gain advantage of one another. Fear of the loss of ones own identity by interacting with the peoples of other nations has no real foundation.
In matters of material needs, we have no hesitation in interacting with other nations. In matters of scientific and technological progress, at least the educated elite of most nations are willing to cooperate with other nations. In matters of enrichment of culture through inter-mingling and exchange, we humans can be quite resistive. And in matters of moral and spiritual progress we stubbornly cling to our ancient past with a remarkable rigidity – reform is clearly unwelcome.
Must we remain backward-looking people hopelessly attached to the ruins of a glorious past that bears no relevance to the modern age? Must we insist that we do not need to progress in our moral and spiritual attitudes to keep up with the changes in lifestyle brought about by the scientific developments of our times? Do we really have to stretch the fabric of outdated ideas to attempt to clothe a vastly grown body of social problems till the dress falls apart by bursting at the seams? Why must we continue to hang on to senseless superstitions, meaningless ritualism?
There are still many ignorant people among some of the the masses of this world of humanity who will not use modern instruments and machinery for better output because they believe they will lose their caste! There are many among the educated who will still consult an astrologer when they need a doctor! There are many who will not try to find a rational solution to a problem but will rely upon magic and miracle workers! There are even such persons who will sacrifice children believing they will get material benefits thus, by appeasing the gods! There are those who believe they can, and will attempt to get relief from venereal disease by raping a virgin, even she is a minor, there are those who to gain material benefits by selling or maiming children, and those who indule in all possible immoral, corrupt and illegal activities, the list is simply endless.
The cause of all the evils is the ‘Prison of Self’. Selfish desires blind the good sense of the individual. Ignorance and lack of guidance has resulted in whole generations being born and brought up without a proper sense of right and wrong; they have neither concern nor an understanding of the consequences whether in this world or in the next. Hence, the mind has never been trained for self-control; rather, self-indulgence at the expense of others is the order of the day.
Children, as compared to adults, are much easier to educate. But at the same time it is essential to educate their parents so that they may neither become uncaring nor over-indulgent towards their children. Then, it is necessary to conduct training for teachers in schools, not only in the methods of imparting education, but also in dealing with psychological problems. Prior to all this however, the mindset and attitudes of the elders must be changed so that they are receptive to progressive ideas in the fields of value education as well as in religion. They must realize that clinging to the superstitions of the past will only lead to ultimate doom.
The sense of right and wrong, of good and evil, of reward and punishment must be instilled within all; otherwise justice will not be done. It must be remembered at all times that the world survives upon justice and not upon mercy. Virtues must be cultivated and vices avoided so that crimes may finally disappear.
There remains the question of those who are set in their ways, those who have already become morally and spiritually sick, and those who are criminals. Such oppressors of humanity must be punished and the punishment must be sufficiently severe so that it may act as deterrent to others as well. Moreover, such punishment is not only justice but also a means of protecting society. The concept of punishment is very clearly explained in the Bahá’í writings. To quote: 'Abdu'l Baha has stated,
“There are two sorts of retributory punishments. One is vengeance, the other, chastisement. Man has not the right to take vengeance, but the community has the right to punish the criminal; and this punishment is intended to warn and to prevent so that no other person will dare to commit a like crime.
If the community and the inheritors of the murdered one were to forgive and return good for evil, the cruel would be continually ill-treating others, and assassinations would continually occur.
The tent of existence is upheld upon the pillar of justice and not upon forgiveness. The continuance of mankind depends upon justice and not upon forgiveness. So if, at present, the law of pardon were practiced in all countries, in a short time the world would be disordered, and the foundations of human life would crumble.
Some people are like bloodthirsty wolves: if they see no punishment forthcoming, they will kill men merely for pleasure and diversion.
One thing remains to be said: it is that the communities are day and night occupied in making penal laws, and in preparing and organizing instruments and means of punishment. They build prisons, make chains and fetters, arrange places of exile and banishment, and different kinds of hardships and tortures, and think by these means to discipline criminals, whereas, in reality, they are causing destruction of morals and perversion of characters.
But if the community would endeavor to educate the masses, day by day knowledge and sciences would increase, the understanding would be broadened, the sensibilities developed, and there would be fewer crimes.
As ignorance is the cause of crimes, the more knowledge and science increases, the more crimes will diminish.”
|10-12-2012, 01:02 PM||#2|
Joined: Sep 2012
From: New Zealand
Interesting, I've often wondered whether the world would be better without a justice system, and forgiveness and mercy were the only reaction to wrongdoing.
|10-12-2012, 07:19 PM||#3|
Joined: Sep 2012
From: dehradun, india
Many many years ago as a boy and later as a young adult, I too believed in mercy, forgiveness and reform as being more important than Justice. In particular I was apalled and horrified at the degree of punishment that was often applied. But as life later showed me and personal experiences taught me, for most people mercy was actually an encouragement to perpetrate more evil, this time in a more subtle and refined manner, so that they would not be caught and punished. They discovered that by saying the right things, by showing the right kind of outward remorse and by shedding the right amount of tears they could get away with it - that avoidance of punishment was possible if they could present the right kind of drama in front of society. They did not fear God for they could not see Him or his justice in this world, they did not care for the afterworld because either they did not believe in it or they simply were slaves of the moment and what happened later would be faced when they came to it. Such people caused even someone like Socrates, the wise, who had tried to teach them the truth, to drink from the poisoned cup. Obviously these are trees grown strong as well as awry and defective, whose branches can no longer be straightened, there is no way except to cut them off.
For many who live in Western style societies criminal behaviour is not normally seen in the kind of abundance that you see in the East - at every step one sees pain and suffering caused by unscrupulous people, sometimes for benefit and at others simply because it gives some criminal minds pleasure. When His Holiness the Christ taught forgiveness and mercy, the intention was very noble and it layed down the guidelines for relations between individuals at a one-to-one personal level. His Holiness was very strong and powerful. He did not hesitate to defend the woman who was being stone by the mob, nor did he hesitate to overturn the tables of the money-changers in the temple. None dared to face Him. Consider, if one of us, ordinary mortals, had tried this we would never have succeeded. What would have been our fate without the protection of the Holy Spirit! But Society can make laws, enforce them and punish the wrongdoers, not for the sake of causing pain and hardship, rather for the protection of humanity. Christianity was taught to many advanced civilisations who were able to develop in the desired manner.
Yet when that same Holy Spirit appeared in the person of His Holiness Muhammad during the days of ignorance in the then barbaric nation - remember Christ had foretold that He must gather the sheep of other folds also - the conditions of those days were not conducive to mercy and forgiveness being applied. Severe, nay, extreme laws of punishment had to be revealed to bring the people onto the right track. There is another interesting point. In todays civilised world a criminal is sent to prison. But in Arabia in the days of Muhammad most people lived as nomads and in tents in the desert climes. Where were the resources to build prisons, where was the legislative and administrative machinery to make and enforce laws? Hence, with all such factors in mind, it was better to cut off the hand or chain the feet or stone to death......
Just as the teachings of Christ were not practically applicable among such 'sheep of other folds' in a different age and place, so also the laws of Muhammad are not easy to implement practically in todays modern world. Hence, the need for Baha'u'llah to reveal new teachings and principles, new laws and ordinances.
Prevention is better than cure. The place to start is to teach human, moral, ethical and spiritual values to little children so that they grow up with love for, and fear of, the Almighty God. These are the green and tender branches which can be made to grow into proper trees bearing good fruit. For if they learn the sense of right and wrong, they will never commit what would need punishment. What a wonderful society that would be.
Baha'u'llah has said that the equilibrium of the world has been disturbed. It is up to us tor work harder to spread His message and bring about a new equilibrium. He has given us one thousand years to achieve this.