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Crime And Punishment

by Rabbi Laibl Wolf


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A civilized society has an enlightened approach to law and order. An indicator of true enlightenment is the way it treats its recalcitrant members.

Life experience teaches us that people ‘mis-behave’ in society, create civil unrest and act criminally, because of a deficiency either in the laws or in the person.

The great wisdom pathways of the world have constantly refined their legal system to keep pace with the evolving circumstances in the ‘new world’. And one might have assumed that rehabilitation is the core rationale such refinement.

Yet rehabilitation seems to be the least consideration of law makers and law enforcers alike. Vindictiveness and self-preservation are the dominant motivators. We lock people away in prisons to achieve ‘put a lid’ on them and to protect ourselves from them.

Rehabilitation is practiced through lip service. In fact, prisons are the fastest growing ‘education centres’, producing criminal graduates and then post graduates, raising standards of crime and social malignancy.

There are two elements to law enforcement – the judiciary and the police force. The pre-requisite for an effective judiciary is wisdom and knowledge. The pre-requisite for an effective police force is commitment to the wisdom goals defined by the judiciary and alacrity in carrying these out in the exigency of the moment.

The mind is our personal judiciary and the body is the personal police force. The human being is a complex society of different inhabitants
The parallel lies within each one of us. The mind is our personal judiciary and the body is the personal ‘police force’. The human being is a complex ‘society’ of different ‘inhabitants’.

There are pleasure centres, flows of willpower, insight messages, emotional dispositions, as well as the awesome array of biological body functions. It takes much wisdom to maintain the welfare of this ‘society’.

But of equal importance is the way in which we practice wisdom in our daily behaviours. A corrupt police force plays havoc with stability and confidence. So does a ‘corrupt’ body create physiological malfunction and leads to addictive and hurtful behaviour.

Daily exercise is needed to maintain the right body postures. These practices extend from fitness and health, to neutralising laziness and mere habit. Meditation, prayer, focused goals, warm friendships, regular tutelage, are all needed to ‘stretch the body’ and keep it in good moral and spiritual state.

Wisdom and right-actions are the basis of the wellbeing of both body and society.

MASTERY: Consider the relationship you have between your wisdom and your behaviour. Check that there is a congruency – that the way you speak and behave is not at odds with the innate wisdom that you have been taught or acquired through life’s experience.

If these are incongruent, identify the ‘mis-match’ and adopt a strategy of change and improvement.

MEDITATION: In a relaxed and focused state choose one wisdom that you have strongly adopted in your life. Visually rehearse behaviours that naturally flow from it.

Identify and mentally rehearse five behaviours that flow from that wisdom. Commit yourself to practicing these five behaviours in the coming week at least once as suitable occasions arise.


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Philosophy » Character