Sunday’s Wisdom #168: On the Need for Justice

“For some men there would never be enough, and unless someone ended them, they would never stop taking.”
– From The Blood Debt
By Duncan M. Hamilton

It is a sad, sad fact of life that not everyone is “good.” Most people are, I think, on some level, but there are some who simply aren’t. Perhaps there was something once, or perhaps there wasn’t really, but whether by nature or nurture, there are men and women who turn out hollow and greedy. Where there heart would be, there is, instead, an empty, hungry chasm that can never be filled, the sort that makes black holes look downright charitable by comparison.

In the story of Hamilton’s Wolf of the North saga, of which Blood Debt is the third, there is a fairly clear delineation between heroes and villains, and it has nothing to do with race, religion, creed, profession, etc. No, it simply has to do with how selfish or selfless, how giving or greedy, they are as individuals.

The heroes, they are heroes not because they are magnificent specimens of wisdom or warrior prowess. They’re heroes simply because they care, and are willing to give everything for the sake of others.

The villains, by contrast, they are villains because they think nothing of taking anything and everything from others for their own benefit. Be it thievery, fraud, torture, betrayal, cattle rustling, raiding, rape, or murder, there is nothing they won’t do to achieve their ends. There is no limit to what they want, what they intend to take, and the more they take, the more they want. Even if they had everything there was, they would still want more.

It’s not a pretty truth, but there is only one way to truly stop such men. To do justice for their victims and to protect those they have yet to hurt, they must be removed from the equation entirely. In some cases, that can be limited to imprisoning them, but even in prison, they will find a way to keep taking. And then there are those men who have already taken so much that they’ve built up their position to one where they’ll just avoid or eventually leave prison in due time.

It’s a hard, unpleasant fact: sometimes stopping an evil man requires ending their lives, and there’s no two ways about that.

That is a most heavy burden to bear, the weight of “what must be done.” Even if it’s done in the heat of the moment, in the middle of a fight for one’s life, and all the more so if it’s done under calmer circumstances. I can’t imagine how heavily such a burden must fall on one’s back. I can only envision it being some poor, unknowing fool who would rush to take it up, unaware of what they’re getting into.

It’s really not something to do hastily. If it must be done, it must be done, but, on the other hand, we really should avoid it when at all feasible, ya know?

As always, it’s a question of balance between extremes, and, in this case, it’s a matter of using one extreme to cancel out another.

Justice in a nutshell.

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