Friday, July 7

responsibility and punishment

This rabble is about future excuses, and my sling when I was a kid

There is a direct relationship between repsonsability and punishment that people seem to miss.

I usually miss it, my friends do, most parents do, and most (if not all) of the societies on this piece of rock flying around, miss it also.

In a few words, the relationship is this:
dealing punishment for a wrong-doing pushes for more wrong-doing

Sounds paradoxical?
It's not.

Let me elaborate on that, by an example:

I remember how (as kids), we were playing outside; we used to make slings out of isolated alluminum wiring, and got latex for the actual "propulsion" of the sling by tearing appart pairs of underware we found in out homes (ruining underware for slings was a legitimate reason for my grandmother to be disperate, but anyway, that's another story).

... those were the days ...

well ... as I said, we made slingshots; then, we used to go around the neighbourhood causing all kinds of mischief we could (mostly by shooting at everything that moved); sometimes, parents used to "catch" some of my friends, and then, they were in trouble:
we saw their parents come after them (or just yell from the windows) and they went home, some of them crying, to get a punishment.

Two days after being punished, with a different piece of isolated wire, another pair or twy of ruined underware, and the gang was back again, causing mayhem.

I sometimes asked them what their parents did to them, and it was usually something like
nah ... just a slap; I got used to it.

That was the general atitude, and their (our) understanding at the time was well ... you payed for it, so it's ok; or, in more generic terms, "if you do any wrong-doing (however that might be defined) but pay the price afterwards, then it's ok".

Except it's not!

Because the next logical step after seeing it as "ok" is starting to measure; One goes: well ... you did X (and knew it's ... "dishonest") and the punishment is Y; weight X and Y and see if you get the better part of the deal.

Then, one starts thinking of ways to do X, without getting to Y.

Then, we have the problem of who decides it was wrong, who deals the punishments, how to negociate what the X and Y are and so on and so forth.

Then, we have jails, warderns, convicts, the stigma of "doing time" following them all their life and all that jazz;

... and the more we try to find this balance between X and Y, the futher we miss the point.

("Long live the american justice system guaranteeing all our rights!" right? I'm not an american, but I don't wish to be, so, it's ok)

I mean
HOW can we miss the point so badly?!

It's easy! I'll lay it down right here:
punishment (the Y) does not equal a wrong-doing (the X).

That means "no, not even if you put X=Y":
it has been tried: it was the old law in some of the biblical peoples (and called literally eye for an eye). It's not working for a simple reason: if I do something wrong to you, that makes me a "wrong-doer"; If you do it back to me, it's not less wrong because I did it first; it's just as wrong the second time around.

If we have somebody killing people - for example - the current standard response (as debatable as it is) is let's kill that person instead; so, now we won't have n murdered people, but n+1, and not one murder, but two (and an entire legal system turned hypocritical, saying it was "not ok" to have n murders, but "ok" to have n+1).

What seemed to work when I was little was something else, instead of punishment: the question

It went like this:
you hurt that other kid; Why?

And my first response was to come up with an excuse, followed by a counter-argument to that excuse; then I came with the next excuse, and so on;

If you do this enough times (as a parent), the kid - at some point (probably right after running out of excuses) - will be forced to actually face what he's done. And he won't like it.

And he won't do it again.

... thus appears responsability.

It's not justice what we're doing here; we're just providing future excuses for whatever behaviour iti is that we're condemning.

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