I listened this week to a most unsettling interview relating to Jimmy Saville and how, having reached five hundred potential victims of his brand of wickedness, we should be turning our attention to those who gave the man access to the people he abused. One of those speaking said that they would like to see a new law created to prosecute the people who 'stood by' and let act as he did. Now, to be honest, I thought that being an accessory to such things was already illegal so I was a little surprised.
My surprise turned to something approaching despair as the person continued to say that we should punish everyone who had been in charge of the hospitals and other places because 'they needed to be made to pay for what they had done.' What followed had little to do with justice but appeared to be all about revenge. It had little to do with ensuring such awful acts never happened again, learning from the impotence, weakness and sloping shoulders syndrome that aided the bloke but everything to do with 'making them pay'.
'Those who stood by and did nothing should be ashamed,' they said; and indeed those who knew should for it is true that stupidity and weakness is often at the root of shame. They continued, 'And no matter how old they are, they should be prosecuted and made to pay!'
Pay with what?'
The Bible tells me that those who permit wickedness are judged by God to be as guilty as those who do it. But don't take my word for it, let's look at Ezekiel chapter three (17-19):
'If God says to the wicked, ‘You are going to die,’ and you don’t warn them then they will die and you're responsible. But if you warn them and they continue sinning them then their fate is in their own hands, but you, having done the right thing, have saved your life.'
But of course this is a 'then' penalty and, wanting 'justice' in the 'now' it is simple for us to be an imprecatory people and being generally a godless people too - to seek redress, vengeance and a desire to inflict painful responses - rather that that which is right.
Justice rather than revenge. Mercy rather than something more primal. A knowledge that their is accountability, that even in the world of Christian Grace there is a judgement - a 'day of reckoning' - brings with it a justice that is tempered by mercy. Lacking in this knowledge brings something by which the whole world dies just a little bit more.
The beginnings of the harvesting of the fruit of a world where God is perceived not to be: The basis by which Burke's, 'Evil triumphs when good men fail to act,' is both the effect and the cause as the feedback persists and the noise becomes deafening.