Post number 18 of 33 in The Ganymede Progression.

This is an interesting topic, and I’ll get to my deliberations on why they have been presented together after a brief discussion of each.

Justification is the extent to which we can justify or make a case for action. This may be our actions, or the actions of another. We do this by weighing our values against the perceived or expected consequences of an action. If we have no expectation, how can we meaningfully justify something? So, the just action is one we feel proportionate to our expectations. For Jedi, we know the Force is a wide and chaotic system. We may therefore choose to only make small justifications, perhaps confined to our own actions rather than in judgement of the actions of others. When we believe an action is justified, we take a stake in its consequences.

Condemnation can therefore be defined as the extent to which we feel an action was unjustified, and the appropriate response to it. We can condemn our own actions or the actions of others. We can feel that an appropriate account of risks, consequences or expected outcomes was not undertaken. Condemnation implies an element of punitive justice: we typically use “condemned” to describe someone whose actions have been deemed so unforgivable, so unjustifiable, that they are being sentenced to death. But this is an extreme case of condemnation. We also condemn the tasteless joke of a friend in an inappropriate situation, or the driver who cuts us off in traffic. Condemnation is not especially becoming of Jedi; I recently posted an apology here for condemning the condemnation a few new members levelled against the Temple. It was hypocritical and rather ironic, and drove home the lesson that to condemn is to fail in our duty of compassion.

So as Jedi, must we always search for justification in the actions of others? The paedophile, the murderer, the rapist? Our Temple boards often see messages from people who believe in the right to bear arms against others, and for myself and many fellow Brits this idea sits VERY uncomfortably with the values of Jediism. That degree of condemnation, to take the life of another, seems wholly incompassionate, utterly against the respect for life and the Force that Jedi take oaths to respect, defend and cultivate. Such condemnation is not expressive of a commitment to harmony.

But does that imply a justification of the actions of others? We might instead elect to focus on our own justifications; can we justify the actions we take against the actions of others? Can we justify putting the rapist/murderer/paedophile into prison to prevent more people from being attacked? Certainly. Can we justify it more than we could justify leaving them free to offend again? Again, certainly. It’s not a grey area. But there is a more acute need for balance in less extreme cases. We might justify that we love our gold, so if someone tries to steal it, we are justified in killing them. This is clearly expressive of an imbalance

Condemnation is most rightly viewed as the dark side of justification. We justify detracting from another to produce an advantage for ourselves; this condemns the Other because of our personal gain. We are entitled to safeguard some essential liberties: our lives, primarily, and the lives of others, as well as our/their freedom from extreme discomfort (it feels horribly reductive to describe rape as “extreme discomfort”; hopefully the inclusion of this note demonstrates that I realise the inadequacy of the term in some cases!); but when it comes to things like property, or asserting our beliefs, we should not be at liberty to condemn others.

What then is property law? Does this mean that Jedi should be against the imprisonment of burglars, for instance? No, no… it seems fair that a social contract be made whereby those who offend against it forfeit their rights. They are entitled to self-justify their actions… it seems cold, callous. The drug addict caught shooting up heroin resting in a cell, did they really exert “choice”? For me, that is one reason for the decriminalisation of drug possession offences, and of prostitution actually. People who are forced by one bad choice into a slippery slope of other bad choices, or walked into corners, should be helped out of them, rather than being “made examples of”. I believe that is the compassionate, Jedi approach to criminality; those who pose a threat by being free should justifiably have their freedom restricted. Those whose only risk is to themselves should receive some other treatment.

Whew! So this was quite a workout in the end. Justification and condemnation are actually rather closer than I initially thought; I wondered how these would blend, but now it’s rather transparent: to justify against another is to condemn them. Better to justify FOR another: that is the truly “just” act.

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