Friday, March 6, 2015

Redemption: Punishment with a Purpose

I'm a big fan of redemption, and much less a fan of pure judgment/punishment, for much the same reasons I'm a fan of recycling, rather than landfills.

Punishment that has no purpose beyond revenge is worse than nothing at all, since there are neither lessons nor benefits, and merely more bitter and angry criminals (i.e. "more waste").

Our modern "penal" system is all about revenge (for the real victims, and the self-righteous imaginary victim of "society at large") and revenue (conversion of public-responsibility projects, such as road clearing, crisis management, or prisons, to for-profit institutions is just so stupid on so many levels).

I'm not a huge fan of "Hell," in general, because at the core it is merely a for-profit bogeyman, intended to coerce and frighten children and adults into correct behavior as proscribed by dogma.

However, at a purely philosophical level, there are definitely uses - and a point - to Hells for people who have harmed and committed evils against society for people like Charles Manson and Rush Limbaugh, as long as there is a time limit, or a point, so the recycled soul can be re-made into something useful.

Also, people make mistakes. Sometimes they are honest mistakes - teenager goofing off and driving carelessly accidently kills someone - sometimes it is malicious stupidity leading to an accident - e.g. drunk driving. At what point does revenge end, and forgiveness (or even just letting go) begin?

Redemption allows for those who make mistakes to turn their lives around and do better, and contribute to society.  You see it all the time, people who served their penance - community service, prison time, fines, whatever - and want to do better the second time around - they realize life is precious, they fear re-incarceration, they fear public shame, whatever.

Revenge is petty, short-sighted and wasteful.  Revenge, like trash in a landfill, serves no long term purpose, and just piles up waste that becomes expensive to store and move around.

Redemption is important.   Redemption, like recycling, serves a greater purpose and benefits society as a whole. Call it enlightened self-interest to support redemption and forgiveness.