Thursday, November 11, 2004

ATTN: attention as punishment in court

Attention could be used in court. Let us say we have a victim (V) of a crime committed by a criminal (C). Picture this: the situation is that the Criminal has done something wrong to the Victim. Now the Victim is hurt and (s)he wants revenge. Criminal should be punished. But what should the punishment be? We'll examine an extreme case, where the Criminal has killed the Victim's child.

What if the judge condemns Criminal to pay attention to Victim? What if he orders Victim to decide upon the time when the punishment is fullfilled? In a verdict like this, the Victim is the director of the Criminal's punishment. It appears that the roles of Criminal and Victim are reverted.

The situation arises where the Victim can not be satisfied; even the death of the Criminal will not bring back Victim's child. In an effort to avoid the experience of deep loss, Victim will refuse the Criminal's attention and call for revenge. In his/her eyes, the Criminal is no longer a human being; there is only the desire to share the pain: "I want you to feel what I feel". But then a strange thing happens. Criminal will ask the judge to be relieved of his punishment because (s)he can not deliver; Victim refuses to accept the attention and therefore the Criminal should no longer be bound to the punishment.

At first, this imaginary situation may look like a Kafka scene. In family constellations however, the rightful place of the facilitator is next to the Criminal, because the Criminal is often the weakest person in the system. I once heard a story about a tribe. If one of the tribe members became ill, the tribe would say "not this person is ill, but the whole tribe is ill and it becomes visible through this one person". Reality is often the exact opposite of what morale wants us to believe.

Back to the situation. The punishment will work in such a way that Victim needs to accept Criminal's attention. If not, Criminal can not deliver and will ask the judge to be set free. Victim and Criminal are tied up to one another; not only does the act of the Criminal have great consequences in the Victim's life, it is also up to Victim to call it even. The influence on each other's life shows a deep bond between the two. Victim can only accept Criminal's attention if (s)he is able to see Criminal as a human being. It is only then that Victim can step out of this deadly embrace and start the harsh task of facing the loss of his/her child. The Criminal's attention, at that point, is desperately needed. When time has come, Victim will realize that enough attention has been paid, and Criminal is set free to accept his/her own part of the karma. I would think that by that time, Victim should be able to help the Criminal likewise.

Mind you, this resembles the situation in South Africa when apartheid was no more and Mandela had to prevent civil war. I trust you all know what happened back then.

Best regards,

1 comment:

Vincent said...

This has blown my mind. Wonderful stuff.