Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Whose Vengeance?

Reportedly, Obama recently declined to pursue criminal cases against Bush administration decision-makers whose actions violated the international laws of war, saying that "retribution" is not productive.
If we have no avenue of justice for these criminals other than retribution, that means that our system of criminal justice has no other avenue than retribution, which is another word for vengeance. But twice in New Testament epistles, the Bible recommends karma instead, saying "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto God's wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."
It's interesting that karma is here framed as "repayment." Classical economic theory defines transactions as consensual, so "repayment" suggests a restorative justice process where all parties converse and come to mutual agreement.

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