I'm inclined to feel that we are not particularly capable of meting out true justice. This is based solely on observing my feelings upon the announcement that Herr Fritzl finally pled guilty to all of the atrocious allegations brought against him for the false imprisonment, rape and enslavement of his own daughter and the children she bore because of him, and the murder of the innocent Michael. Blech. So coy was he when he announced that he could not understand how cruel he had been to Elisabeth, and that now though he regretted everything he had perpetrated upon his family, there was nothing to be done to un-do his actions. Then the courts in Austria gave him a life sentence, and he was carted off to a clean, antiseptic psychiatric ward with a window and a fellow inmate to share his cell with for a few years until he kicks the bucket.
What would justice be in this hideous expression of human behavior? What is the point of justice? Is it to make society feel better? Is it a way that we can continue on our merry way as if nothing bad has happened? Is it to avenge the victim? So that a broken person can see another person broken further? Of course, a criminal begins broken, breaks and ends broken. It's just all about being broken.
If you've read my past blogs you know that I'm all about internal change. I finally concluded that I could not change the man I had loved for so many years (any more than Rhianna is going to change Chris). Change is an inside job. No amount of workshops, interventions or jail time is going to change a person who does not find the need or the motivation to change from within. To me the only justice is when the scales finally tip enough, and just enough for a person to find that desire for change screaming louder than the desire to stay comfortably the same.
Usually that happens when a person hits rock bottom. It may be that in the past a jail experience was bad enough, embarrassing enough to motivate some people to change. However, I doubt very much if the psychiatric hospital will even somewhat mimic the conditions that Herr Fritzl would need to be motivated to really have compassion for his children and even himself. I doubt the white collar prison that will house Bernie Madoff will begin to give him the desire to find a way to repair some of the incredible devastation his "because" caused to people and organizations around the world. And, don't even begin to think about the "President" of Sudan. It's hopeless to imagine his coming to the conclusion that change would be proper and right. These men and so many men and women around the world alibi themselves out of their own freewill by a simple rationale -- it was the victim's fault, it was someone else's pressure, it was the need to serve these constituents, it was because we had to please the investors, it is because of someone else somewhere needing me to have no moral center, no core values, no real trust or faith in justice...none.
Then what of the victims? What would be justice to the victims of these criminals? What would make the Holocaust all better? Israel? Is getting something for our pain justice? Why wouldn't it have been more appropriate to give Berlin, Munich and Warsaw to the Jews? Is seeing a perpetrator of injustice locked away real justice? It may give the illusion of safety, but how many broken people stand in line behind the perpetrator jailed to commit new crimes? Am I suggesting we let murderers,robbers, rapists and pedophiles roam free? Nah. Jail will have to suffice for now, because we haven't fathomed a better solution for them. But, what makes the victim whole again?
Change, of course. A victim has got to painfully, day-by-day use all of her or his energy to regain freewill, for it is freewill that was stolen, no matter what the crime was in the first place. The blaze I imagine in Elisabeth's eyes can be the only spark of hope for her, for that must be an intense desire to rebuild her life and to live anew. She's got to deal with the past without forgetting there is now and there is the future. She's got to find the desire to restore her freewill to live her life as she can with purpose and compassion and desire. She may do it for her children for a while, but in the end she'll have to find that burning ember within, and she'll have to breath a lot to make it catch on something that is worth living for from the inside out. Whether we are trapped in a cellar or in a pattern of thinking that enables a criminal, eventually the only justice is to decide to live, and that don't come from no court.