Punishment or Peace?


Many years ago, during my ‘spiritual’ search, I ended up living on a large and very beautiful country farm (waterfall, hills and bubbling, fresh-water stream on three sides). Unfortunately, I had to share it with a couple of dozen, new age, trendy hippies. Down the winding valley road (Darkwood Road, Thora - very Hobbitish :smiley:) lived a bunch of red-neck hoons (hooligans) who would scream abuse at us each time they’d drive past.

One morning, we got the shock of our lives. While we were sleeping, the hoons snuck in and tore the place apart. The gardens had been uprooted, the mango trees cut down, the glass houses smashed, and buildings vandalised. We were devastated. Luckily, the police caught them pretty quickly and gave them the option we had asked them to give: repair the damage or face criminal charges. They reluctantly took the first.

The interesting thing about this was that when they arrived, everyone treated them with respect and really well. After a few days, they began to relax and almost seemed to enjoy helping us put the place back together again.

The repairs took about 6 weeks but from then on, each time they drove past, they tooted the horn and waved – sometimes even doing deliveries for us.

This episode taught me a lot about dropping the demand for punishment, reprisals and vengeance and finding ways for both groups to work together to repair the damage. This isn’t a wishy-washy idea nor is it a politically-correct warm and fuzzy solution. It’s a strategy that works. It also lasts longer and cost far less than any ‘punishment’ model I’ve seen.

Would it work for all people, in all situations? Absolutely not, nothing does, but I believe it should be tried and tried again before resorting to other models that have shown to be very ineffective, expensive and often counter productive.

EDIT: Photo of the property added (This photo only shows a small section of the property. It was many hundreds of acres in size and stretched from the hills to the river – so did the damage. :unamused: )

What the hell is a “hoon” anyway? :confused:

(Cool story, though!)

Ooooops… I forgot, it’s local slang for ‘hooligan’

When applicable perhaps the best “punishment” is to be forced to relate to the victim as a person. No matter what the race, color or religion, we’re all more alike than we are different. You’re average dumbfucks can probably be taught this.

Obviously you don’t want seriel killers to be forced to clean the victim’s parents crawlspace. The most heinous and sickening criminals probably won’t be redeemed by pal’ing around with the family of their latest meals. But I get your point.

Yeah, that was a very nice story. It addresses a strange aspect of behavior as well. When I was a kid it was a classic that someone would want to fight you and then after the fight you both would become friends. I still have no clear idea what that’s all about.

It could be that the tender emotions are too much for one of the parties and that creates anger, which can only be discharged via violence. I have no idea though. What do you guys think?

I suspect that the reason that cooperative behavior is so rarely seen among disparate groups (or individuals) is that it takes more work, more ingenuity to arrive at workable solutions than simply fighting for dominance. Let’s face it. Most of the time we’re just too lazy to go the extra step. It’s much easier to fight or punish others till we get our way. We’ve devised all sorts of ways of talking about and dealing with ‘them’. Sadly, we seem to be slow learners… how long have we been on this planet? :astonished: