Friday, February 5, 2016

The Judge & The Executioner

I once learned the martial art of self-defense known as silat in my early twenties. I'd say I became quite good at it, and I had lots of fun honing my skill. But in a freak accident during a training session, I injured a fellow student rather seriously. I was so scared; I thought he was gonna die. I gave up on silat shortly after that.

I can still remember my master fairly well, although I haven't met him for almost 30 years now. He was a very humble man of few words. He must have been about 50 when I knew him all those years ago, and I was amazed by his agility; he could move exceptionally fast on his feet almost effortlessly. The last time I spoke to him, he reminded me to walk away from fights; never ever engage in any fight unless it is absolutely necessary.

But people are not like that, really—when they have no ability to defend themselves, they tend to be a little timid. They will try very hard to stay away from any situation that could potentially give rise to the use of force. That is, of course, just natural because in the event of a fight, the odds are against them to win. However, if they have the power and strength over others, there is that tendency to be imposing. They may become courageous and maybe even become a big bully!

In my younger days, there were occasions when I was tempted to use what I've learned on others to teach them some good lesson, because some people seemed like they absolutely deserved a good kick in their butts! I could say they had it coming! I said I felt tempted, but I never did act on that temptation. Nevertheless, that was enough to show me that when one has the power, there is that tendency to use it! There is that inner sense in all of us to punish others whom we think deserve that punishment!

But being civilised, we have the legal system firmly established. The parties in dispute shall appear before a judge, and the latter shall decide which party is in the wrong. He then metes out the appropriate punishment. Then a different party shall carry out that punishment as decided by the judge.

I fancy, however, that the judge, acting in his capacity as the judge may on some occasions derive some sort of secret pleasure of seeing a criminal squirming in the witness box; and in some cases, maybe he would have loved to be the person actually carrying out the punishment. There is that strange sadistic nature in all of us—the lust to cause pain upon others, especially if we're convinced that they deserve it. It is just unfortunate that the law doesn't quite work that way. So the judge shall judge; and the executioner shall execute whatever punishment.

I read with interest the news of the man assaulting another on grounds that the latter had sexually harassed his sisters. I find it disturbing that he said "any man would have done the same thing in his position". I think it would be interesting to know how he would have acted if he was just a tiny and weak man, and the person he's accusing of sexual harassment was a huge muscular man twice his size. Perhaps in such a case, he would have sought the help of the police, and then allowed the legal system to take its course? And at any rate, I don't believe that any man would have done what he did. Some of us are civilized; and we do act in a civilized manner.

It is also interesting to note that he also had the support of his followers. Sometimes, it is very easy to get caught in the moment, and all of us have been guilty at times to fall prey to anger. We are convinced that we are seeing something wrong happening, and we want immediate action to correct that wrong. Accordingly, we take immediate action, thus assuming the role of the judge as well as the executioner.

But one of these days, some of these people whom are supporting the assault will be accused of something that they did not do, and they, too, will be assaulted without being given the opportunity of the legal process to take its course to prove their case. I'm guessing maybe in such a case, they wouldn't be very supportive of the notion of taking the law into one's own hand. It's amazing how quickly one can change one's opinion when seeing a problem from within oneself. That's life, I guess...

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