I'm going to write now. I'm going to write like an ENFP. Let this be a study - a peek into the mind of a person who flips constantly from thought to thought. It takes effort to slow down and focus on one idea, and I will start many that will not develop. Maybe there will be something worth commenting on or thinking about by the time I'm done...
A hungry wolf deviates further from his pack. Recently, their organized hunting has been unsuccessful. His fur is not at all disheveled, owing to the recent rain and the humidity which had seemed to groom him immaculately, as if with fingers. Perhaps his nose is keener than the rest’s, or perhaps his present recognition of a potential meal is brought about merely by his specific position and the tufts of air that drift to him before the particles disperse into a useless density, such that whatever essence of rabbit reaches his brothers is so minute that it is ignored, probably because there are a great many odors about, and this hint of information is insufficient to indicate the rabbit’s whereabouts. In any case, this pack is spread over a wide enough area that only a single wolf determines the area from which this scent is emanating. The source is close. His tongue undulates unconsciously, and he is aware of the slickness of his incisors that is characteristic of this heightened state.
The rabbit senses the wolf too – and as her adrenaline begins to trickle, her hairs stand on end, especially the hairs nearest her spine. The wolf is about fifteen meters away, and though the rabbit is visually concealed from him by a small bush, she does not feel safe. Though her body is motionless, her consciousness reels through possibilities. Soon, she may run.
It is inaccurate to say she is aware of this reeling in any way comparable to what you or I might experience when weighing options or predicting events in the near future. In man, the faculty of imagination is the same for both of these processes, though we have found it convenient to separate them mentally. When a man makes a choice, it is always – to some degree – tentative, if he is rational, because the introduction of new information may alter the best course of action. He weighs options based on innate, immutable values such as the love of life and his own happiness, as well as less firmly solidified values that have been constructed through his experiences. The probabilities of the occurrences of events beyond his control are considered, and the corresponding actions he would take, (those that he thinks would most probably satisfy his values) are predicted based on the information he has presently. He believes that an event beyond his control will occur in the future, and that, though a chain of events has begun externally, the ultimate outcome of these event is contingent upon his own action, and that is called ‘choice.’
Choice is therefore safely categorized within the realm of prediction – a truth that may appear dehumanizing to some, though that reaction is unwarranted (as we are certainly human anyway). The prediction lasts until the moment arises, in which case the planned action may be either carried out or changed because of the introduction of unforeseen information.
The rabbit makes choices in a perfectly similar way, though her contemplation and forethought are virtually absent. Because a choice is never truly made until the chosen action takes place, the contemplation of the future is merely foreplay. The wolf’s paw sinks into the mud as he creeps closer. It is unlikely that the rabbit had consciously predicted that he would run if the wolf began to advance, but the choice to take action springs from all of the information presently available, and for this rabbit, fourteen-and-a-half meters of distance between her and her predator is gravely intolerable. The rabbit runs.
His sprint is skilled. With each skip, his front and back paws separate to a maximum distance, which expands her diaphragm and draws oxygen deep into the folds of her lungs, which is quickly expelled and replaced as she contracts like an accordion. The chase is short-lived, as is the rabbit. The wolf has greater endurance, which is the death of this poor rabbit.
This interplay is an illustration of the natural occurrence of conflicting interest. One wants to eat, the other to live. Is this killing just? Hunting and vegetarianism and decay and sunlight and reproduction drive the engine that transfers energy along complex paths. This principle is ultimately circular. Through cultivation, man has specialized nature to his benefit. Man alone has bent the chains of nature, though these chains could never be broken, because the acts of man are indeed acts of nature. Nevertheless, this bending of the rules deserves special consideration, as it is unprecedented in the natural world.
With reason come questions of justice. Justice is so highly prized by so many, and considered so untouchably sacrosanct, that the fact of nature’s indifference is hardly considered in their evaluation. One animal acquired sustenance to the other’s detriment. To consider this killing just is to apply the workings of nature as the standard of justice. This view implies that, because nature cannot be defied, injustice cannot occur, which makes its consideration meaningless. Therefore, justice must be an invention and an imposition.
From where is the value of justice derived? By what standard may we evaluate its importance? Let’s jump right in and consider justice in the form that it is most widely applied: law. Law is a contractual code designed to inhibit certain behaviors. A law is a removal of a right. It is a myth that a right can be granted, because all rights are inherent. Laws work through punishment; they deny the natural impunity that may otherwise come with egregious actions. Punishment exists both for the sake of retribution and the prevention of certain actions. It is thus both practical and metaphysical. For now, I am going to consider the metaphysical side: retribution.
Retribution evens the scales – it damages for the sake of previous damage. More suffering is caused in order to attain some evenness. Isn’t it rare though, for more of the same to cancel itself? It takes up to cancel down – where is the logic in using pain to cancel pain? Clearly, though the practical side of law and punishment serves to reduce future offenses (let’s equate offenses with ‘pain’), the metaphysical side is not at all concerned with the reduction of pain. Does this pain-for-pain actually balance the scale and create justice? If it does, then I ask: why place justice on a higher plane than peace? Can we keep the practical side of punishment while eliminating the metaphysical confusion of “evenness” that comes with it?
I wonder, if that were in some way possible, if people would prefer offenders not to be punished for their actions if it were somehow certain that the offense would not be repeated? Does it defy your sense of justice to serve ice-cream to a rapist? If it does, then I invite you to question where you have gotten the value of this “justice” from, and why you consider the implementation of pain a positive thing in any realistic circumstances.
I recently had my car stolen. To my dismay, they did not respect my request not to press charges. The police told me that if I wanted them to find my car, they would have to arrest and probably imprison the perpetrator. I did not have the option of extending mercy, and I had to call them back the next day after weighing the situation with my conscience. If my car was stolen for two or three days, it might be a minor inconvenience to me – not comparable in any way to the amount of time the perpetrator would be locked up. It would be an implementation of pain to produce some evenness on a scale that was virtually empty on one side.
They found the car after a few days, and didn’t find the criminal. I was fine with that, and I hope he will not attempt that in the future.