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Poch Peralta

Freelance Writer / Blogger,

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Can you Really Love Your Enemies?

Will the world be a better place if everyone does that? Or will it cause criminals to multiply and be worse?

'Babylonian law put an end to this. Assuming you were of the same social rank as the person you injured, the punishment had to fit the crime: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

'This principle, as barbaric as it may seem today, was an important step forward for civilization. A further advance was made by Jesus and Buddha, who both, according to Robert Thurman, Professor of Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, embraced the philosophy of love your enemy...'
http://bigthink.com/big-think-tv/finding-zen-on-christmas

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  • Jan 7 2014: Hello Poch, Seems to me that the most important aspect of loving our enemies is that we love them, but don't necessarily love what they do.
    Obviously we love, or should love our kids. But here too, we have to judge or asses what they do. If we did not love them, we couldn't care less what they did.

    We should not be driven by anger, hatred and revenge for those that think, and act, worse than we do.
    That's why we should not hate a bank robber, but not like and support what he did. In fact we should send that person to jail so that he can improve himself.

    At some point we may have to overthrow someone's table. But, again, that should not be done out of hate or revenge.
    This is someone's sermon on the subject
    http://www.swedenborgstudy.com/sermons/mirror-newchurch.org/LoveYourEnemies.htm
    Thanks for your great question.
    • Jan 7 2014: Quick sidebar sir, but tell me how exactly is jail/prison improving people? If you put a wild animal in a cage for a period of time, I'm sure it won't magically turn into a calf when you let it out. Are you aware of the atrocities that happen in the jail/prison world?
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        Jan 7 2014: Good questions that should be answered.
      • Jan 7 2014: I agree with Jean. My mom and grandparents worked in the prison system and saw first hand the effects it could have on people. My grandfather was a counseler that dealt with drug addictions, many of which were started after incarceration. It is a difficult subject for me to understand and see the "right" side of, the prison system is seriously flawed here in the U.S., there is no question of that, but what is the solution? I don't think counseling and therapy is the answer for violent and sexual offenders, though maybe that would be better for those suffering addictions, and more effective than sentences in prison.
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          Jan 7 2014: Jacob,
          What I observed in 6 years of volunteering with the dept. of corrections, is that work programs can be effective in giving offenders skills which they can use when/if they are released.

          It would be great to see self sustaining villages, where inmates could learn skills, including, and not limited to, how to beneficially contribute to a community.
        • Jan 7 2014: Hi Jacob,
          That is the best question "what is the solution?"
          As punishment, it seems that fines or jail is all we have. Whether counseling and therapy are effective or can be improved, may totally depend on the person on the receiving end.
      • Jan 7 2014: Hi Jean, the idea is that there should be consequences to actions.

        Please leave animals out of this discussion. People can change their mind, what they love and do. Animals don't.

        --"Are you aware of the atrocities that happen in the jail/prison world?"--
        Are you suggesting we send criminals to a pleasant hotel in the Bahamas?
        I know probably not everyone dislikes jails because the food and the bed is better than at home, if they have a home.
        Even when we give kids a time-out (because we love them) we don't put them where they'll have a great time.
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          Jan 7 2014: Adriaan,
          You write..."Even when we give kids a time-out (because we love them) we don't put them where they'll have a great time."

          This is true Adriaan. Neither do we put them in a place where they will learn more about how to be a better criminal.

          You really think the food and the bed is better in a prison? Have you ever been in a prison Adriaan? On what do you base that statement?
        • Jan 7 2014: Cant seem to reply above.
          Adriaan, it is a tough question. One I've never been able to wrap my head around. Its too complex for me. It has to do with all kinds of factors of course. Economic inconsistancies, soiciologiacal issues, problems in our education system, glaring problems in our judicial system, where to begin?
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      Jan 7 2014: '...the most important aspect of loving our enemies is that
      we love them, but don't necessarily love what they do...'
      Yes sir. Hate the sin, not the sinner.

      'If we did not love them, we couldn't care less what they did...'
      It's funny most of us don't see or often forget that simple thing. If we 'punish' our nephews and
      nieces, only a few parents will see that we care and be grateful.

      'That's why we should not hate a bank robber, but not like and support what he did. In fact we
      should send that person to jail so that he can improve himself...'
      I'm in that actual dilemma. I can't even send the home robber to jail because he's a relative and
      all I have are circumstantial evidence.

      Thank you for joining in sir.
      • Jan 7 2014: Thanks Poch.
        That being a relative makes it difficult, in a way. But if you have valuables, I'd put them in a safe or a room only you can get into. I assume your relative would not break in.
        Doing nothing would not make that relative a better person either.

        A kind and simple mentioning, with no one else around, or question could stop it. As long as the relative gets the idea that this is about him or her becoming a better person, not about the items that are gone.
        All the best.
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          Jan 7 2014: 'A kind and simple mentioning, with no one else around,
          or question could stop it.'
          I agree Adriaan. But another reason why this is a dilemma is that the offender
          does not listen to anyone except himself---the kind of person who believes that all
          that he do is just and right.
      • Jan 7 2014: That makes it tough, and since I do not know what your options are in your environment, I cannot suggest who to get involved.
        Do you have locks on doors? Could you change them? Can you put valuable stuff somewhere else? Could you move?

        How do you reach someone that will not listen.. ? Tough indeed. Best wishes
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          Jan 7 2014: You have mentioned the solution: moving.
          But changing residence is not easily done. It's a major difficulty.
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      Jan 7 2014: Adriaan,
      You say..."That's why we should not hate a bank robber, but not like and support what he did. In fact we should send that person to jail so that he can improve himself.

      Do you have any statistics to support your statement that people who go to jail "improve" themselves?
      • Jan 7 2014: I can imagine for a number (however fractional it may be) prison is a least a roof and guaranteed meals and for a larger number, prison becomes a way of life, maybe the only way they see available to them. The problem, for me is the promise of rehabilitation and how seldom this seems to actually happen. There are programs that definitely see results but this is contingent on the inmate wanting to change and learn new ways to live. We should definitely as a society hold people accountable for their actions but our current "justice" system seems to cause as many problems as it solves.
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          Jan 7 2014: I totally agree Jacob, and I think one of the challenges, is that people often believe that prison is working. There are programs that actually work, and are cut out because many of the prisons are now privatized, and providing programs costs money, which affects the bottom line of the privately owned prisons.
      • Jan 7 2014: The privitization of the the prison system scares me. I can't argue that privitization can have a place in the real world, but the idea of a company that seeks to make money off of crime and punishment is worrisome.
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          Jan 7 2014: I agree Jacob, and privatization of the facilities does not seem like the most beneficial possibility.

          I think it is odd that in a conversation about loving our enemy, those who are incarcerated have been singled out as an "enemy". I experienced most of them as wounded people who were continuing on the path of wounding other people, which is what they often learned to do to survive in the environment they were born into.
      • Jan 7 2014: That's fair. I've actually had a couple of family members spend time in prison and I have nothing but love for them. I've got to say that i am conflicted though. If someone harmed my family they would find an enemy in me. The bars they sat behind would be the only thing keeping them safe. I can forgive a lot of things but violent crimes are not one of them. I know this is contradicting and hypocritical, but I've come to terms with it. My family and those I have love for in this world are what keep my grounded and woe be unto those that seek to harm them. Sorry thats a little intense. I thought a lot about non-violence over the years and had to admit to myself that I'm just not that evolved.
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          Jan 7 2014: Jacob,
          You say...you "know this is contradicting and hypocritical".....mmmmmmm....maybe not....

          If someone harms you or your family personally, you would consider them to be your enemy? You love family members who have spent time in prison.

          They have not personally harmed you or your family members correct? So, in your perception, a person who harms you or your family would be considered an enemy.

          I understand that and do not perceive it as contradictory....seems clear to me. You are saying that if someone harms you or your family, you would consider him/her an enemy. That is different than labeling ALL incarcerated people the enemy.
      • Jan 7 2014: No I don't consider them my enemy at all. The contradictory/ hypocritical part comes in when I cant forgive violent crime, but I would seek to do violence, and that would be a crime. Once again I have to admit that I'm not part of the solution, I'm part of the problem.
      • Jan 7 2014: I can see that for humanity to advance we would have to be willing to sacrifice greatly, as the nonviolent movements have proven. I just cant pretend to be that good a person.

        Edit: Colleen, I can feel the discomfort and disappointment in your "OH" and I'm sorry for that, I really am, but I have to be honest with myself and I want to be honest with you guys. I wish I could say I was forgiving enough and maybe I could/would be, I just don't know, and I hope I never have to find out. I enjoyed discussing this with you.
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          Jan 7 2014: Jacob,
          My "OH" is acceptance and respect of your choice for yourself.
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        Jan 7 2014: 'What I observed in 6 years of volunteering with the dept. of corrections,
        is that work programs can be effective in giving offenders skills which they can use
        when/if they are released.'

        Colleen, doesn't your factual statement prove that prison as punishment works---if used correctly?
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          Jan 7 2014: Poch,
          The rate of recidivism shows us that prison as punishment does not work.

          I believe that some work programs teach offenders skills they can use on the outside that might help prevent re-offending. Those programs have been cut....at least in this state....because it is not profitable for the owners of the privatized facilities.
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        Jan 7 2014: Ahh yes. Recidivism. The punishment is not just the problem.
        I think what the offender do after release is the bigger problem.
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          Jan 7 2014: Well Poch....believing that punishment will work to prevent re-offence doesn't seem to work.

          Yes...I agree....what the offender does after release is the bigger problem. If s/he does not have any skills to support him/herself, s/he will probably do what is familiar to him/her.
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        Jan 7 2014: 'Those programs have been cut....at least in this state....
        because it is not profitable for the owners of the privatized facilities...'
        So when this happens, there's no more option but lethal execution right?
        Any other suggestions?
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          Jan 7 2014: WHAT???
          "So when this happens, there's no more option but lethal execution....???
          Poch,
          What are you talking about?

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