An Eye for an Eye

No doubt you all have seen the footage of Novak Djokovic who was thrown out of the US Open after accidentally hitting a woman line judge with a ball towards the end of the first set of his match against the Spaniard Pablo Carreño Busta.  Yes, technically this was wrong to recklessly slam a ball in frustration toward a wall.  But the punishment seems so extreme given the blatant disregard for lawlessness we see everywhere else these days.  I guess part of the reason is Djokovic is white so he too should be punished for some form of white privilege.  I wonder if Serena Williams would have been disqualified for the same offense?

That brought to mind the question of punishment fitting the crime.  I was taught the Old Testament principle of an eye for an eye.  Most people misread that advice thinking that if someone does something wrong to you that you have the right to return evil for evil.  No.  It was written to warn us not to escalate wrongs.

As I was researching this I came across an excellent article in Psychology Today that stated:

“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life…” is located in the sections of the Bible that instruct judges how to punish criminals. It is strictly an instruction for courts of law, not for personal revenge. In fact, the Bible instructs people not to take revenge. When we feel that someone has treated us unjustly and we cannot resolve the issue with them directly, we are instructed to turn to courts of law, not to take justice into our own hands.

An eye for an eye means that the punishment should fit the crime. If it doesn’t, it is immoral and is therefore likely to cause more harm than good. Turning the other cheek cannot be a policy for dealing with crime. Let’s say someone robbed or raped you. Would you want to go to a court of law where the judge’s policy is to let them rob or rape you again? That is not justice.

According to Psychology Today, punishment has several goals. The following are three of the most important:

    1. If crime is not punished, there is likely to be rampant crime, for crime will pay.
    2. Criminals should compensate their victims for the harm they caused.
    3. Punishments should guide criminals to become better people by getting them to feel remorse for what they did wrong so they won’t want to do it again.

Wow … seemingly obvious good advice and counsel.  Yet, a world-renowned white tennis player is thrown out of this match that may influence the rest of his career for a fluke occurrence … yet hundreds of hoodlums are lauded for truly reckless, premeditated behaviors on our cities’ streets purposefully throwing Molotov cocktails at police, breaking store windows, and looting?

No punishment for these crimes?  Really?

The Black Soldier Fly

A fly that could be a key part of our future

The quest for sustainable agriculture has discovered a somewhat unlikely partner for our future food chain.  While you and I probably do not compost waste food products from our homes, many in the world do and this commonly found fly has emerged as a natural hero for our quest for sustainability.  It is easy and safe to create your own inexpensive Soldier Fly Farms for your garden and the benefits are truly astounding if you are interested in this lifestyle.  Go ahead and Google the way you can do this for next summer.

The reason I became aware of this was one more article on circularity that came in this morning warning about the unintended consequences of our aquaculture efforts. Read the GreenBiz article here. 

We all know that feeding the planet is extremely difficult to do without creating some kind of environmental challenge.

What I found refreshing about this article was that the quest to be responsible discovered a relatively simple answer that seems to be scalable and have no negative side effects.

It is so nice to see that we can work on worldwide hunger issues and discover scalable, simple answers.


Admitting we See Dimly

If we are intellectually honest, we will all admit there are things we cannot know for certain but we never-the-less indicate that we do.  Making matters worse is we now label things that we don’t know, and can’t know, but by doing so, we create the appearance of knowing!

Psychology sounds so precise, yet it attempts to understand and predict human interactions.  Perhaps that is better than not thinking about it, but once you have an “ology” you get people trying to stand out with their special take on it.

Kant vs. Hume is an excellent example of philosophy.  People go on and on arguing why Kant is wrong and then why Hume is wrong.  It is almost a form of intellectual jousting … there is no real point to it … it is more about appearing smart by finding flaws in someone else’s thinking.   Things like this of course also exist in the sciences, but the spirit of the debate is different.

For example, in physics, we have the Particle vs. Wave Theory of Light.  They sit side-by-side even within the textbooks with rightful arguments on both sides.  Even advocates for one point of view see the truth in the counter-arguments.  And, perhaps one day there will be one “unifying theory” of light.

But, what I like about this unresolved issue is that civil discourse dominates the journals and the ongoing research.  Nobody is trying to prove somebody wrong.  Everyone admits being perplexed.  Both sides see each other’s point of view.  All voices are being heard.

What concerns me lately with our cancel culture and social unrest is that we are losing our ability to tolerate uncertainty.  We want simple answers to our perplexing challenges.  Perhaps we are unwilling to pay for them, but at least we want to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it is not an oncoming train!

The title for this blog comes from a part of a phrase many Christians quote about what happens when we die.  The full phrase comes from 1 Corinthians vs. 13: 12 “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”  There is a level of humility here that seems missing in all too many of the arguments I hear today.

Oh, and perhaps you remember the rest of this chapter, which is often read at weddings.  It is often referred to as the “love chapter” since it describes the way loving people relate.

Yep … that seems to be the problem for sure today.

When Behavior Matters

We live in a country that reveres freedoms so when someone tells us what we should be doing, we naturally tend to ignore advice even when the evidence is overwhelmingly clear: exercise, eat wisely and moderately, get a good night’s sleep, etc.

I posted on my Facebook page years ago that I renamed my dog Five Miles so I could claim to walk five miles every morning.

Seriously though, this COVID situation has brought behavior clearly into stark focus.  Bad behaviors have tragic consequences.  I am sure many of you can recount family or friend situations about weddings and other large gatherings where the irresponsible behavior of just one person who “had to come and had symptoms” did so and impacted many others.

I track this each week for a bunch of my friends and associates and have watched how the attitudes toward public health warnings seem to be about as polarized as the most recent election … perhaps even worse.  You can see how some will be strident in their defiance of these warnings.  Some of my friends are in the medical professions and send me journal articles claiming there is no difference in results based upon the recommended behaviors.  When you dig deeper though you can see the experiment itself was set up to get that answer.  They did not want the truth to come out.

Perhaps there is something then to be learned by watching free countries who have done better than others in their response.  I have been tracking Sweden vs. Norway but most recently added Finland to my comparison and you can really see that good behavior matters.  Here are the relative statistics for the recent increases in these three countries:

Pop Mil Cases/Day
Finland 5.54 300
Norway 5.42 600
Sweden 10.1 6,000

Go online and you will see that the policies of Norway and Finland are about the same and the size of the countries is also about the same.  But the results are starkly different.  If you google that, you will find countless references to a simple fact: Finlanders listen to authorities and do what they are told.  They don’t have to … they just do what is right.

Behavior matters and we need to stress this in our remaining time before the widespread administration of the vaccines.