23 August 2009

Vengeance

Lockerbie murderer Abdulbaset al-Megrahi has actually in his last few days, done the West a favor. No one will now think that Mr. Q'dafi has changed his spots. Clarity is a bitch some days.
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How then do we deal with what Scotland did? American political leaders are in rare agreement – the condemnation of, 'compassionate release' is voluminous and angry. Is it correct?

I am not so sure. Yes, Mr. al-Megrahi has forfeited his claim on common humanity. His actions and lack of any remorse for them leave one very little room for pity and none for respect.

And yet, I think how we react to the compassionate release says more about us than it does about Mr. al-Megrahi. Yes he is a bad man, yes his actions are disgusting, horrifying and incidentally un-Islamic. But he is also dying, no threat and a human being – even if he has worked hard to forget he is a human being.

The Bible says, “vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord.”

Taking evil violent men out of circulation so they cannot attack innocents is one thing. Certainly Mr. al-Megrahi is such a person and when he was physically healthy, incarcerating him so that he could kill no more strangers was a good thing to do. But he is now incapable of doing violence to those decent people must protect and frankly he is not very important any more.

That leaves vengeance. Somehow, we are told, the knowledge that Mr. al-Megrahi was in prison was to comfort those who lost family in the bombing. Really? Dose the relatively cofortable incarceration of one minor part of the conspiracy somehow make the loss of a daughter, mother, son or father better? Is the family shattered by the loss of a husband or wife somehow made whole by it? No. What we have here is vengeance. And that heals no one.

Jesus did not call us to forgive only the penitent. He called on us to pray for enemies. Mr. al-Megrahi will face his end soon enough. He will carry with him the contempt of the civilized world and those who used him to kill. He will quite properly be forgotten because he will leave no good, no love behind him. That is enough. Keeping him in prision to die would perhaps satisfy a certain sense of fairness and vengeance but frankly he is simply not worth it.

At the end of the day, turning our backs on him and Lybia and moving on is better vengeance. He failed. Lybia failed. And that is enough.

FWIW
jimB

11 comments:

MadPriest said...

It is not only Scotland that does this. All the UK nations have a legal tradition of mercy and release of prisoners when they are facing certain death. Also, our understanding of life imprisonment is rarely literal. We simply do not feel comfortable with locking people up and throwing away the key. From a practical point of view we believe that giving prisoners hope leads to better behaved prisoners.

But what really annoys me is hearing Obama critisising the Scottish minister's decision when the US government has been happily doing business for many years with the person the whole world knows was responsible for the Lockerbie atrocity. Americans may be satisfied with getting revenge through the punishment of minions and scapegoats but the Scottish are not that easily fooled. They don't see the releasing of this man as an affront to justice - they see the whole sham business, from start to finish, as an affront to justice. They have merely decided to distance themselves from the hypocrisy with honour.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

I quite agree, and have been rather disturbed by the cries for vengeance from various parts.

Vengeance is not Biblical in any real sense - only Hellenist - flatly rejected by Christ Jesus!

Jim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim said...

Ah well, once a nation or person starts down the vengeance road, I don't think whom they harm matters to them. There is a terrible line from the 'old west' to the effect that one should kill them all and let God sort them out.

It is relevant to remember as we so often forget that the process of creating new States was intended to bring civilization to the old west, not to bring its barbarity to the US.

FWIW
jimB

Jim said...

"Vengeance is not Biblical in any real sense - only Hellenist - flatly rejected by Christ Jesus!"

Ah well, who cares what he said? For the real follower of St. Anslem, Jesus mattes as sacrifice but not as theologian. What he said is not all that important to them. Another reason I think his ideas suspect.

FWIW
jimB

MadPriest said...

I wouldn't want anybody thinking that the British are any less vocal in their calls to string bad people up as everyone else. We see red like everybody else when evil things happen.

But, it does seem that we let go of our need for it once justice has been dealt out in the proper order. And we would certainly get no pleasure watching somebody die a lonely death in prison. I would think we would assume that justice has been done by the time somebody gets to that stage and that nothing else could be achieved by hammering in one final nail. People over here are being very dismissive of the minister's claim that God had somehow intervened. But, I actually think that, subconsciously at least, that's what most people believe. God, fate, whatever has put the final boot in so why should we worry about the punishment anymore.

Jim said...

I think there is a fundamental difference between justified anger at obscenely evil conduct, and what is going on now. Scotland tried this man, convicted him and imprisoned him.

They acted properly then and I think we could trust their discretion now. He is dying, and there is nothing but vengeance to serve in continuing his incarceration. He was as on of my favorite songs say, merely a pawn in their game. It is enough and it should be over.

FWIW
jimB

Ann said...

There is another reason for execution or imprisonment - that is stopping others from doing it. I doubt that would work in the case of terrorists -as they see their cause as noble and we know that the death penalty is not a deterrent in crime either.

Jim said...

Ann,

If I thought how this mope dies would be a deter another terrorist I would perhaps think differently. I don't.

Thanks for the note!

FWIW
jimB

Christal said...

"Anger clouds the mind..turned inward it is an unconquerable enemy."
-Splinter from the movie "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

That's what I think about vengeance.

Jim said...

I never thought of Splinter as a great Christian thinker before. I do think your quote is apt. Vengeance is indeed an expression of held anger and it does indeed hurt the person seeking it.

FWIW
jimB

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