It is extremely interesting, even ironic, to observe that Christian behavior is expected of society by those who are not practicing it.
Of course it is not called Christian behavior, and some might even be offended at the term. Nevertheless, it is, in fact, the practical application of “If thy neighbor smite thee upon thy cheek, turn the other to him also.” In other words, many people anticipate there will not be an equivalent response to rude or untoward behavior. They have the built in sense that their offensive, or totally inappropriate, behavior will not only be tolerated, but in many cases be completely without any kind of response, appropriate or otherwise. In a word, they expect everyone else to “act like Christians,” an attitude primarily observed in countries that adhere to Judeo-Christian standards.
Offenders expect to be tolerated and allowed to engage in their actions and then be treated humanely if they break legal or moral law. In other words, the offender expects society to “turn the other cheek,” as if their rights are preeminent and all others subservient, or at least secondary. Their attitude seems to be, “I can do whatever I want and you are not only not authorized to object or respond, but if you do, it must be in a manner acceptable to me.” So no matter what they do, society must respond in a humane, Western-civilized, acceptable manner. You, the target of their vitriolic disdain, must, in the face of distasteful, even heinous, acts display restraint and civility.
A poster child for this attitude is the so-called Occupy Wall Street movement. Apparently, members of this group think they are well within their rights when they commit acts of vandalism, theft, robbery, rape and other sex crimes, not to mention committing such acts as publicly urinating and defecating on private property and trashing vehicles. It seems such acts as smashing the windows of privately owned businesses, arson and theft all fall within the purview of their rights as members of the 99 percent. (Well, pardon me, but none of the 99 percenters I know act like that.)
Here, is the rub. While a larger percentage of the mob were acting like unchained animals, they anticipated the police and any business or property owners, or outraged citizens, would simply “turn the other cheek” and endure. Can you even imagine the outrage had a property owner stepped through his broken window or come out of his burning business with a six-shot pump-action shotgun and “let ’em have it”? On a newscast, I saw a protester walking back and forth on top of a building throwing what looked like heavy broken stones or bricks at the police below him. A direct hit could have seriously injured or even killed an officer or passerby. Now suppose a police sniper, concerned for the safety of his fellow officers or other citizens, had taken out the rock thrower with a single shot to the head? Suppose the owner of a car being trashed had cranked up the engine, put it in gear and “floored it,” running over several peaceful demonstrators.
Or consider this scenario. Criminals rob a bank, killing several unarmed people, including two disarmed bank guards, and then try to make a getaway. The police arrive as they are leaving so the robbers take refuge behind cars and in doorways and exchange fire with the police. After killing several people, including seriously wounding two officers and killing a child in the shootout, they run out of ammo. So they yell, “We’re coming out, unarmed!” They throw down their guns, lift their hands over their heads and come out. They have spent half an hour or more killing, and trying to kill, people so now they just “give up” and walk out, where they are “read their rights” and have an attorney appointed to represent them. If the police are a little too rough in subduing them, we hear cries of “police brutality!” from outraged defenders. Suppose, when they stepped out from their hiding places, the police simply opened up on the spot and “mowed them down,” as they themselves had done to others. (Oops. No can do! Remember! Restraint and civility!)
And how about this for charity and civility: room and board (including dietitians and first-class gym facilities) for a medical doctor who murdered 260 of his patients, a child murderer who confessed to killing 400 children, and a child rapist convicted of raping and murdering 138 (yet confessing to 300). Let us not forget the less-dangerous types as the Son of Sam and the Manson family, all recipients and beneficiaries of our humane justice system. It’s just too bad about their victims.
“So, what’s the point, Kinchlow?” Simple. One of the primary reasons we have the kinds of things I just pointed out is because everyone from the aforementioned murderers to the Occupy Wall Street mobs, to teen mobs (gangs), to real mobs (gangsters) all know they can count on not being treated inhumanely if and when they are confronted by our system of justice.
Everyone knows that cops – even if you resist arrest, fight them or even shoot one – will not brutalize you, because if they do, the public (certain segments) will be outraged and come down on them like a ton of bricks.
How about an old-fashioned, extremely effective, eminently fair application of justice, applicable to everyone regardless of race, creed, color or national origin – you know, kind of like our Constitution, applicable to all? The thing is, this concept comes from a document that predates our Constitution (and most other modern governing documents) by centuries. Properly understood, and taken in context, it would assure equal justice under the law and would apply equally to all, regardless of socioeconomic or political status. It would save billions in judicial and prison costs, and even more in the social costs associated with the oft-failed rehabilitation of released prisoners. “According to a new study by the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Center on the States, 43 percent of prisoners nationally return to the lockup within three years.”
So what, one may ask, is this simple, effective, easily implemented application, where is it found, and how do we know it works?
Into a world devoid of universal standards of justice comes a totally fair concept of justice. None were exempt, and no one would be punished unjustly. Every citizen was free to pursue their own goals and aspirations, so long as it did not harm a fellow citizen. (Until society would mature and dispense with slavery, even slaves were not exempted from receiving justice.) Let us recall there were/are no perfect societies, but the foundations for “liberty and justice for all” were being laid.
The solution? The Bible – Exodus 21:23-25 (amplified):
“… If any damage follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, and lash for lash.”
As previously stated, taken in context, this, and supporting/corroborating verses, make for a society wherein there would be justice according to the offense. And yes, like you, I have heard the old canard attributed to Ghandi, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”
Jesus showed us a much better way: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Kinchlow translation: You don’t want somebody putting out your eye, don’t put out their eye.