Thursday, June 30, 2005


Every society imposes sanctions, legal and social, on their members in order to encourage approved behavior. It's my considered opinion that sanctions often fall short of what ought to be their ultimate purpose: justice. That sanctions are counter productive is a matter of fact. That they're often so, is a considered opinion. It's easier, however, to prove travesties of justice due to legal statutes than those that occur on account of social sanctions: While proof of legal injustice is often plainly visible, the signs of social wrong are almost never obvious. Therefore recognition of social repression requires a little less self-infatuation and more perception than is common. Hence the a significant number of people in every society live lives of quiet desperation; desperation exacerbated by the fact that in such a situation, reprieve is beyond hope: one can hardly expect it from the those responsible for the distress.
While i believe, in principal, that social sanctions can play a significant role in forstalling the defects of the legal system in preserving justice; am not convinced of their efficacy in reality.
Who defines justice? Legal standards of justice are often set to benefit special interest groups. Therefore there many things that are legal but not fair, partial to the priviledged, or simply inequitable to the poor. The origin of social criteria are less clear as are the standards themselves. Furthermore, one cannot know social limits until they're infringed. My grievance against social sanctions is that their impact on justice is contingent on the collective ethos of a society; which is basically a composite of averages: average intelligence, humanness, level of progressiveness, toleration..... Winston churchill was onto something when he said that the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.Am apprehensive of entrusting fairness to a mechanism whose ideals are often questionable at best. "Often" i say because if a spciety's values are questionable even once then it's one time too many. Many atrocities have been committed as a result of social attitudes: slavery, the Rwandan genocide, the spanish inquisition, to mention but a few. But there are horrors, which beacuse they're not quite as arresting in their iniquity that escape notice. The quiet desperation of families who lose loved ones to disease because they can ill afford the requisite healthcare for instance. And yet as a society we are complicit in such tragedies: we worship wealth without concern for how it's amasses. Don't we then implicitly sanction corruption. Is it any wonder than that there insufficient funds for social services deperately required by so many and afforded by so few? But the pervasive influence of our social standards stretches to the crib to ensure that children are taught compliance from an early age. It stretches to the classroom too; to ensure that troublesome students don't slow the education process by asking too many questions. But as if those restraints aren't enough, society purports to dictate what we'll do in our private lives; how we'll relate in relationships, what we'll read, listen too.. A propensity for rock music and western literature carries with it the risk of being referred to as one who possesses "white tastes"; which extrapolates to mean one has a fondness for white people. In light of our history, that's hardly complimentary.
Perhaps i shouldn't like anything by white people on account of the injustice they perpetrated against us but then by the same token, i shouldn't like anything by black people either. Because when i seek the enemies of my people, they who impoverish them, and rob them of their dignity; i find that they look like us, and even speak our tongue. And yet if such those crimes are accomplished subtly, then the culprits face no repercussion. Are such people closer to the ideal espoused by our society than the misfits. Is he who steals tomatoes and onions worth 3000 shillings less desirable than one who "misappropriates" millions of shilings? Are we to sacrifice all individuality so that we can belong? Are we to sacrifice all instinct and reason at the altar of social sanction? Surely we must reassess and redefine our ideals!


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