“People like to point out that bullying is not about the victim, it’s about the bully. That’s mostly true. The bullying was about [the victim] to the extent she was picked as the target (for a reason). The rest of it, though, was on the kids.
Likewise, our response to the kids is not about the kids, it’s about us, mostly. Our response is about the kids to the extent that they were chosen as worthy of comment (for a reason). Beyond that, our response is on us.
I’ve heard talk of giving these “evil” kids what they “deserve” and “what they had coming to them.” Yet, we have the power. There’s nothing written in the stars about who deserves what. It’s just us and our morality, and apparently our morality is vindictive and angry.
There are alternative moralities we can use. Morality can be loving, or even freeing. At one point in John’s gospel, Jesus says to the Pharisees, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” Jesus leaves the rhetorical question implied, After you’re done with this woman here, will you give yourself what you “deserve?”
And lest we forget, after the accusers leave, the passage doesn’t end with Jesus stoning the woman by himself. He lets her go. Neither the witnesses (Jesus and the accusers) nor the sinner (the prostitute) were irrevocably bound to the sin. The passage ends with forgiveness, or in the most literal terms, nothing.”
(borrowed from partialobjects.com – my thanks go to the writer; italics mine)
Morality, or when to do absolutely nothing
So, when we envision justice, does it involve a collective change of behaviors, systemic or structural reform, the use of punitive measures, redistribution of goods/money/resources/services, better parenting, higher quality education, and/or closer adherence to a more wholesome morality? Surely some of these may fix things…
The trick is that it doesn’t much matter which; pick any pet theory you like about why things went against the grain in the first place – what to do to right a perceived wrong is not really the question we should be considering. What matters is where the restorative action is sought. Can we actually manifest justice externally without unjustly imposing our rather subjective truths?
Or can we only forgive?
Forgiveness is a powerful thing. It completely obviates the power of debates within which we waste so much energy pushing our personal truths around. Instead it brings responsibility (i.e, the ability to respond) directly back into our own hands. How easy it is to push causality here and there; always somewhere, though never within. What does the world begin to look like when we acknowledge our own complicity in the creation and/or perception of faults external?
Jesus is also said to have instructed those who would point out a speck of dust in another’s eye to first remove the log from their own. Six of one, half dozen the other with the parable mentioned above. The point stands – be mighty careful in your assignations of blame. In fact, maybe better not to.
If I recall, there’s a word for that : forgive.