Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Letter to a Friend

I'm sorry to hear about [your wife's] car and purse being stolen. I can well
imagine how unsettling it was to [your wife and son] to feel "violated,"
and how annoying it was to deal with the aftermath of the theft. I
once lost my wallet down in LA, and it was a hassle calling the credit
card companies and doing the other things that one must do to take
care of business. However, it's nice to know that the custodians
cared enough to look for the car and that they saw and reported it to
police. I'm also glad that no one was injured in the ensuing chase.
At least part of me is. Another part of me wishes that the people who
stole your car and then endangered the police and public in the chase
had gotten their "just desserts." As it is, they'll probably plea
bargain their way down to a misdemeanor. [My wife] and I often watch
World's Wildest Police Videos. I confess that I enjoy the exciting
chases. But your story reminds me that the cars I see chased and
sometimes crashed are stolen from families like yours and that
innocent people suffer from this.

Speaking earlier of "just desserts" has me wondering what "justice" is
in a case such as this. What should happen to the guys who stole your
car? On the one hand, I believe that people who do such things
deserve to be punished in some way. On the other hand, I still
believe that what they did was, in a sense, the inevitable expression
of the state of the universe at the time that they did it. As I wrote
in an old poem: "Whichever way you go, Tao is sure to flow." Or as one
of the characters in the recent movie Before Sunset says, "If you
put two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen together, you'll get water
every time." I guess I still look at this pretty much the same way I
have for a long time. The people who stole your car may not have been
able to act otherwise under the existing conditions of that moment in
time, but the right legal and social response to their act, along with
broader individual, social, and cultural changes, may sufficiently
change future conditions to prevent these and other people from
stealing cars and running away from the police. Ken Wilber has
founded an Integral University that brings together leading experts
in many fields including psychology, law, and criminology to look for
integral ways to do precisely this.

No comments: