THEOSOPHY, Vol. 51, No. 10, August, 1963
(Pages 275-276; Size: 7K)

LETTERS-QUESTIONS-COMMENT

[Article number (10) in this Department]

William Q. Judge, in his article "How Should We Treat Others?" quotes a Master as saying that "the man who goes to denounce a criminal or an offender works not with nature and harmony but against both." In later comment in this same article Mr. Judge says "I have never found an insistence on my so-called rights at all necessary. They preserve themselves, and it must be true if the law of karma is the truth that no man offends against me unless I in the past have offended against him."

To many this view might seem unduly passive and utopian. Do we not owe a debt to our fellow citizens that they be protected against the predatory activities of criminals? [Note: Since you may want to read it after you finish reading this article, I have provided a link to "How Should We Treat Others?" at the end of this one.--Compiler]

The key word in the above remark is "denounce." The dictionary uses "attack" and "stigmatize" as synonyms. While it seems altogether proper to inform responsible authorities of the predatory activities of another, the temptation of the lower personality is to exacerbate the gravity of an offense by attaching additional opprobrium -- to condemn wholesale not only the acts but also the character and destiny of the transgressor.

The virtue of a philosophy of restraint and patience is in the value of the "second thought." If karma is a reality then we do deserve what comes to us. The unthinking propensity to lash back at whatever disturbs our equanimity has wrought countless woes on all levels -- personal, social, international. Men have long suspected, and modern psychological studies have recently demonstrated, that anti-social acts spring from a reservoir of misunderstanding and ill-will, which themselves have a cause, in which cause our own destinies are enwrapped. In responding to an offense we have a remarkable opportunity to move in the direction of restoration of harmony and, in Mr. Judge's words, "to follow the line of action which shall result ... in the reduction of the general sum of hate and opposition in thought or act which now darkens the world."

A couple of anecdotes are apropos here. Lincoln was once criticized for not taking a more militant and denunciatory attitude toward the South during the Civil War. Even the Bible, his critic declared, speaks of the necessity of destroying God's enemies. In response Lincoln asked his critic if he could think of a better way to destroy one's enemies than by converting them into friends.

On another occasion Lincoln was taken to task for not defending his reputation and probity against the unwarranted and scurrilous attacks launched against him by various periodicals, even in the North. Lincoln's reply was that if the White House sought to defend itself against all unjust accusations, its doors would have to be closed for any other business.

Herein seems to lie a great truth. By turning the mind to fend off our attackers we automatically must divert attention from other goals. We may consciously do this with a mind to effect a temporary delay, but the ensuing embroilment often amounts to more than that.

Now, having said this, the question remains: To what extent might one try to imitate great Sages in the charity they show for weakness and faults? One cannot fail to realize that crime is a social phenomenon; the single man living on the desert isle is not concerned with it. Apparently some cultures are more successful than others in either preventing or coping with the malaise and psychological disorientation that characterize "criminal" behavior. The Hopi have practically none of it. Neither do the inhabitants of Bali in Indonesia, if we believe the reports of travelers. Balinese and Hopi cultures have built-in "correctives" for anti-social acts.

Village brotherhood is a living fact, and communication among village inhabitants is both easy and natural. There is little opportunity or need for members of these societies to prepare "faces to meet the faces that they meet." The truth comes out. By contrast, the Western man has to hire a hall and organize a committee and suffer innumerable minor and major inconveniences just to be heard. The mass media are inaccessible to either the poor or the recalcitrant. Brooding over his malaise, the "criminal" feeds the fire of his discontent, which accordingly grows more intense and eventually breaks out into some openly hostile act. While not condoning the fruits of ignorance, one may very well look upon the criminal as a man simply caught, just now, in the trap of his own incomplete thinking. And he is the symptom of a broader social disease.

So while Judge's view that a person's so-called "rights" preserve themselves may seem at first unduly passive and utopian, the practice of practical "charity" has its reward.


Note: In case you want to read it, before going on to the next article in this Department, here's a link to the article by WQJ, entitled "How Should We Treat Others?", that was quoted from in the question in the first paragraph of the above article.--Compiler

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LETTERS-QUESTIONS-COMMENT
(September 1963)
[Article number (11) in this Department]

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