Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Endless Punishment

How do you punish a mass murderer, a Master of War, an architect of genocide? How could we have brought balance to our moral universe for the millions executed on the orders of Hitler, Stalin or Mao? Shall we rain down on Kissinger the sum total of all U.S. aerial bombardment in the Pacific theater during World War II, as was done to Cambodia at his command? How much pain should we inflict on George W. Bush for the million-plus deaths caused by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars?

The leaders of the guilty have few lives to sacrifice on the Scales of Justice, but there are millions of lives on the other end. The nooses of Nuremberg seem too humane for these crimes. They are too quick, too clean for the monsters who managed to keep the blood off of their hands. Shall we resurrect them to exact an execution for each life taken? Shall we pursue them through reincarnations, ensuring that each of their next million lives ends in misery?
This is why vengeance never ends. No punishment that fits the crime can be anything short of a new crime that reverses the roles of the victim and the criminal. I feel like a monster just for proposing these sentences and committing them to (digital) paper. But who of moral clarity and passionate temperament hasn’t entertained such thoughts?
When does justice become revenge? That could be measured by the level of emotion invested in the prosecution. But even justice requires emotion. Science has shown that emotion is needed in order to make the most basic decisions. Therefore, we must temper our passion with empathy and mercy. Each murder, be it state-sanctioned or not, is a wound that must be treated, not an offensive maneuver in a zero-sum game.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

A Lonely Boat

I think what may appeal to me most about Peak Oil is the idea that it will throw everyone into the same boat. No matter your current station, it's supposed to reduce everyone to a state of discombobulated poverty.

That may be wishful thinking, but it's certainly attractive to an alienated, isolated member of this atomized society. Chaotic, communal destitution sounds better to me than pointless, lonely comfort.

Granted, I had a chance to embrace a better version of the communal life 4 years ago when I visited an ecovillage, and I rejected it. The reality of that lifestyle caught me off-guard. Ironically, I wasn't ready for the constant social contact. I came to crave the same privacy and solitude I'd been trying to escape.

Surely there's a happy medium that provides both community and privacy, but it may require a long, arduous journey to find. I don't know if I have the strength to take that path. At this point, though, the shame of being too afraid to follow my bliss has become unbearable. Being true to myself may now be the only way for me to keep my sanity.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014


I'm about to quit another corporate job. I've been through this cycle before, the one that climbs toward stability and then gets tilted over by the weight of stress, anxiety and guilt over my complicity in the corporate ruination of the world. Maybe my moral objections are just excuses for my inability to meet the jobs' demands. Whatever the reason, I'm back at the bottom, trying to find a way off this ride.

The worst part is that each time I get back on the corporate carousel (or Ferris wheel), I drift further from reality. The world becomes less real. People become harder to reach. I know they're there, but my heart won't let them in. I'm afraid to open myself to joy, because it lets the pain in too and, when I'm part of the corporate machine, the pain is too much to bear. I feel like a cog in the Machinery of Death.

On that corporate carousel, the world was slipping away. Now the fear that I'll never find a healthy niche in the world is threatening to hurl me out of the earth's orbit into the black void of space. But I've been reaching out to people to keep from losing touch with the world. Only human contact will keep me grounded. Here's hoping I can establish a permanent base on this planet.