The Old Testament "Eye for and Eye" is not the correct frame of mind when dealing with the aftermath of abuse, torture, murder, or the holocaust. There is absolutely no excuse for committing those kinds of acts.
I was personally blessed with the honor of meeting Dr. Viktor Frankl in person, after his speech, many years ago. Dr. Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, like US Army Major General Sid Shachnow (he spent three years in a Nazi Prison Camp) that I interviewed for my Doctoral dissertation on the topic of leadership and Adversity, and how to overcoming adversity.
Dr. Frankl survived when others gave up. I was personally honored to hear him speak several years ago and he shared, as he has done many times in his public speeches: "I am here today, because I kept in the forefront of my mind that one day I would be here addressing you."
What a profound thought he had to share! What an incredible inner spirit! Frankl's ability to survive the Nazi death camps and for him to still believe in man's humanity-I find amazing. With this as the background of the injustice of one man to another, I would like to explore several ideas about the nature of the concept of justice. This has not just been a recent discussion on the topic of justice, mercy, forgiveness and punishment, but discussed as far back as Aristotle.
The trick or problem is dealing the balance of mercy and justice, as well as freedom and responsibility. What should be the guiding principles in dealing with the horrors of unspeakable act of cruelty to an individual, a group, or a nation?
To elaborate on the concepts of justice and injustice, I will offer some recent examples to clarify the extremes and consequences. A complete lack of justice paves the way for such atrocities as the Nazi holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, and other large-scale abominations. Conversely, exacting (retributive) justice, as exhibited at the Nuremberg trials, is also an extreme to be avoided.
Distributive justice utilizes the concept of geometric proportion. It distributes wealth among the members of the community directly proportional to their merit. This would mean that a good person would receive more than someone who is not good.
The concept of rectifactory justice deals with remedies for unequal distribution, loss, or theft. The idea of rectifactory justice would be utilized to correct an injustice in a voluntary commercial transaction, or in the case of an involuntary loss, as from theft or assault. Rectifactory justice is therefore arithmetically progressive in nature.
Choice is one of the best measures of moral goodness, because choices, which involve liberation, are voluntary, and actions may not be voluntary. We consciously choose the means we will use to achieve a desired end or reach an objective. This philosophical discussion is helpful, but not compelling enough to move individuals, groups, nations, or all of mankind to take action; not just to offer "lip service" or rhetoric, but to create a world in which "restorative justice" is the rule, not the anomaly.
I believe there should be an international political, ecclesiastical, business conference convened where there is a free and open discussion of issues that stop justice from being practiced in many parts of the world. This conference would institute a system of restorative justice and adopt forgiveness, so a rekindling of the humanity of man could occur.
My proposal for an "International Conference of Social Justice" would involve a cross-section of leaders from the "G-8" countries, emerging nations, and impoverished nations. In order to influence the positive outcome of the Conference there should be a broad spectrum of ecclesiastical leaders from all major religions. These leaders would take a strong position to bring about a meaningful and workable system of social justice with the key element being restorative justice.
Some of the ecclesiastical leaders who come to mind are, but not limited to: Pope Benedict XVI of the Roman Catholic Church, The Patriarch of the Orthodox Catholic Church, President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Dali Lama, a leading Mullah, a leading Rabbi, and Reverend Desmond Tutu. This spiritual group would help provide an undercurrent of the true spirit of faith, hope, and charity.
Political leaders who would be invited, in addition to the leaders of all The Group of Eight major industrialized economies, also called the "G-8" nations, and other enlightened leader such as Former South Africa President Nelson Mandela, and others who have demonstrated commitment to social justice, or advocated issues of good will toward mankind, reduction of human suffering, and an increase in the quality of life for everyone. This group of past and present leaders would provide the political and moral power needed to lead the cause to change or modify the justice system in their countries.
The banking and business community would need to be included, as they have the economic power to bring the dream of equity, justice, and well-being for all mankind into a reality. William Gates III, Warren Buffet, and other wealthy and generous individuals who have demonstrated a sincere and genuine effort to change the world for the better would be included in the business list. The list of business leaders would include a broad spectrum of leaders from major firms of the United States, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands.
This would be a significant and incredibly powerful Conference. These types of major de facto and de jur leaders would possess the combined political power, influence, credibility, enlightened thinking, and the spiritual and moral courage to successfully influence the paradigm shift necessary to create a world which truly embraces "Restorative Justice!"