How to React to Violence and Intolerance?

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Xavier Le Pichon writes in Ecce Homo of the 6th century B.C.E., an era that gave rise to Buddha, Lao Tzu, Confucius and the Second Isaiah:

As humans increased their capacity of transformation of the world and consequently increased their power, they also increased the abuses they made of this power through unjustified violence. But these massive abuses pushed some of the members of the societies to act as “prophets” of the human dignity who react to violence and intolerance by increased benevolence, tolerance, respect and love for the weakest and most suffering members. Everything happened as if these surges in violence were actually “forcing” humans to discover ever more the nature of their eminent dignity. These extraordinary “inspired” men had an enormous influence on the evolution of human culture. Humanity had been constructed by the daily struggles of men and women confronted to their own fragility and vulnerability. Among them, there must have been myriads of people who acted as innovators but history has not kept trace of them. With these prophets, men appeared who had an immense influence on their contemporaries as well as generations to come and who permanently affected the human culture through the growth of our common human heritage. This new phenomenon asks in a new way the question of the nature of the “inspiration”, the personal capacity by humans to transcend their confrontation with suffering and death within a personal unique experience.

In the wake of the news of the horrific torture inflicted by a gang of teenagers on three gay men (see here), I find Professor Le Pichon’s words difficult to understand.  ”React to violence and intolerance by increased benevolence, tolerance, respect and love for the weakest and most suffering members”?  Professor Le Pichon has so much more faith than I do.

I have met few prophets.

But to advocate for human dignity is within the grasp of each of us as lawyers and law teachers.  What does that mean, and can it ever be enough?  Would any “advocacy” have stopped what happened in that abandoned Bronx house?  Hatred is a powerful force that strips both haters and the hated of their humanity.  No more hate.

-Bridget Crawford

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