We’re a punishment-based society.
We want people to suffer, not for what they’ve done, but for who they are. White people want black people to suffer for being black; black people want white people to suffer for being white. We punish each other. That’s racism.
This dynamic is repeated across every aspect of American life. Rich people want poor people to suffer. Poor people want rich people to suffer. Men want women to suffer. Women want men to suffer. Old people want young people to suffer. Young people want old people to suffer. Healthy people want sick people to suffer. Sick people want healthy people to suffer. Republicans want Democrats to suffer. Democrats want Republicans to suffer.
We believe in punishment. Not change. Not equality. Not kindness. Not empathy.
We put our faith in punishment “to make the world a better place.” This is insane.
We build prisons to punish people, not for “breaking the law” but for being who they are: categories of pathological humans. Categories that we invent to satisfy our need to hurt other people, animals, plants – the Earth itself. Faith in punishment as a “means to produce change” ensures disaster. In the United States, this has become a frenzy that extends to every detail of our lives, from the most personal actions to public social policy, to foreign policy.
Punishment is not natural. Nature is change: adaptation to changing environments is the principle that has produced millions of viable species over 3.5 billion years. That’s success. Nature improves; nature makes changes. Man punishes.
Accountability for individual or public actions means that those actions change; the motivation behind those actions changes. The person, or groups of people who make up our institutions, change. That is success. Punishment and fear of punishment, has not, nor ever will, produce healthy human beings.
At the U.N., I routinely encounter countries that do not want to impose sanctions or even to enforce those already on the books. The “hard-liner sanctions skeptics” have their own self-interested reasons for opposing sanctions, but they ground their opposition in claims that America uses sanctions to inflict punishment for punishment’s sake. Samantha Jane Power / American academic, author and diplomat who served as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 2013 to 2017. Harvard / Harvard Law School (Puritan) graduate.
SINNERS in the Hands of an Angry GOD. Sermon by Jonathan Edwards, Puritan Pastor, 1741
So that, thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out: and they have no interest in any Mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of, all that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted, unobliged forbearance of an incensed God.