It seems like a simple question, and yet it has become increasingly more difficult to discern who in this world is right and who is wrong. The lines have blurred considerably since 9.11 and the start of the ‘War on Terror’.
I think it is important to realise that the only true way one can distinguish between who is on the side of good and who is on the side of bad, is by how they behave and what tactics they stoop to.
To be good, is not easy, the bar is set high. No shortcuts are allowed. You have to fight according to rules, even if it means that you will lose some of your battles just because you refuse to compromise yourself.
To demonstrate that you are in authority, and worthy of that trust you must:
- Always accept the bad person’s surrender and not harm them
- Never, under any circumstances, impose the death penalty on any person
- Never beat anyone who is not resisting or who has ceased resisting your arrest
- Never, no matter what, subject anyone to torture
- Never withhold food, water and medical care from those in your captivity
- Never use landmines or cluster munitions
- Never indiscriminately attack areas where civilian casualties are likely
- Never seek to kill the enemy, rather seek to neutralise the threat
- Never give up on diplomatic efforts to resolve issues
I know, because I have read their opinions in comments, that many people still strongly favour having a death penalty for certain categories of crime. However, there is no possible way for an authority to have a death penalty and have legitimacy simultaneously. I contend that any authority which imposes the death penalty is automatically evil.
It is the job of those in authority, specifically law enforcement, to persuade people who have committed crimes to surrender themselves to arrest and to face justice. Now the best reason to give to anyone to surrender themselves is the knowledge that by so doing, they will not be harmed, no matter what they have done. They may face incarceration for a period of time, but they will not be harmed. They will not be killed. They will not be tortured or beaten. They will not be starved.
If a suspect believes that they will face the death penalty and will probably receive it, then they have no good reason for surrendering. When cornered, they will fight desperately to the bitter end, because they have nothing to lose.
It is the wicked person who desires the death of others. That is an absolute truth. It is a wicked thought to desire the death of another.
Torturing a person to extract information is out of the question if you wish to be on the side of good. Even if the person has information that would save 10 000 lives, you may not beat it out of them. The 10 000 have to die, rather than you resort to torture.
The reason for this is simple. People have to believe in you. You have to have their trust and their goodwill. Only good people win that trust, that respect, that affection, that deep abiding devotion and that sense of duty. People will willingly follow a good person to the ends’ of the Earth, but they will not willingly follow a person they believe to be bad even one step.
You cannot win people’s respect by beating them (or others), you can only make them fear you, and that is a counterfeit respect. It is not the real thing.
To be good means to lose some of your battles. It means at times you will have to absorb punishment without meting any out.
To win sometimes means that you have to first lose. The good way is always better, and in the end, good always wins.