9/11

No Justice for Boston

As I watch and read the continuing coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings, my thoughts turn to our condition. People keep talking about “bringing the perpetrators to justice” and I don’t believe we can.

My word processor has a “justify” option. Using justification enables me to impose margins, adjust, and balance my text. Can any justice we enact similarly adjust and balance the lives of the victims and their families? It seems the only justice the victims would recognize is giving them back what they have lost, be it their legs or their lives. We are not able to bring the dead back to life and we can’t regenerate or fully restore blown off limbs. How is it we can so readily promise justice? The murderous and diabolic acts of 9/11 happened almost 12 years ago. Despite on-going war and the death of Osama bin Laden, no one I have spoken to in conversation seems to feel justified or restored.

All we can do as a society is enact discipline. Our laws provide the means for trying and imposing punishment for those who threaten our safety. In some cases, the punishment we bestow can be as grievous as the crime committed. Punishment is a deterrent, a tool for discipline. It’s the same thing we do when a child misbehaves – it is not justice. After those responsible for the bombs are caught and punished, will the families of those who lost loved ones be restored? Will lost limbs be regenerated? Will true healing and restoration have occurred? Sadly, no.

What we call “justice” is the equivalent of a life preserver: it helps keep society and its members afloat. Without punishment and discipline, we would drift and drown in a quagmire of uncontrolled chaos and selfishness. But admit that the punishment we enact isn’t going to restore or heal. It isn’t ever going to bring justice.

Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/9.5 at 1/60 sec., 18 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/9.5 at 1/60 sec., 18 mm

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Because They Are Family

If you have never known the experience of owning a cat or dog, you’ve missed out on one of the most rewarding stewardship opportunities available to man. A pet that is loved and cared for will show you unconditional love and trust while bringing you endless joy in return. The relationship that forms between man and beast is not random, it is a gift of intelligent design; a demonstration of the cycle of giving upon which all life depends. On the other hand, the loss of a pet can cause grief one unfamiliar with the experience may not understand or even be able to comprehend.

A recent stroll through an unfamiliar cemetery in town led to the discovery of a wonderful memorial garden dedicated to our furry friends. I did not know then that in just a couple of days, I would be saying goodbye to Seamus MacKitty, so in hindsight it seems kind of fitting that I had this preparatory opportunity to reflect on the significance pets can have in our lives.

I was touched as I looked around and read the epithets, name plaques and some of the beautiful and even whimsical sculptures people had placed in remembrance of animals that had become, without question, part of “the family.” In some cases, no doubt, these beloved creatures were the only family the people who loved them and placed these markers knew. Just think about that for a moment before you read on…

I have a couple of friends who have also had to recently face the loss of a pet. Though we sorrow, we recognize how fortunate – how blessed – we have been to have them as part of our lives. We recognize that they have enriched our days and expanded our hearts. We think of the times they brought us so much joy, of the smiles they so often drew across our faces. As pet owners, we are unashamed of our love for a “dumb beast” because we know there is no such thing.

Having beheld, we have become changed.

I’ll close this post with a link to one of my favorite songs from artist Peter Gabriel, “I Grieve”, from his (brilliant) 2002 album “Up”. While written in tribute to the events of 9/11, it is a poignant statement of grief that briskly stirs the emotions of my heart.