On Contention

by

One way to tell the good guys from the bad guys is this: Contention.

Contention comes from the word “contend”, which is another word for fighting and arguing. Contention in and of itself is not bad. Hopefully, each of us live our lives daily contending with ourselves about what we should do with our time. In science, we contend with each other about science and interpreting the results of experiments. In a good religion, individuals content about what is the true and pure doctrine and what is not.

The problem of contention comes when we stop battling ideas and start battling each other. When it becomes more important that the other person lose, rather than just his ideas, we are fighting each other and not ourselves.

I believe this is what is warned about in the Bible. In the Book of Mormon, in 3 Nephi 11, Jesus spells out that contention doesn’t come from him; it comes from the devil.

When you survey the political landscape, you see people arrayed one against another, like vast armies. For your political philosophy, what is your enemy? Are you arrayed against certain ideas, or are you set against particular people or groups of people (regardless of their ideas)? If so, you’re in the wrong.

This brings to my mind a couple of things.

One of the things I have been thinking about lately is why we need to punish criminals, and what should be the punishment for certain crimes. I think it boils down to this: We punish criminals so we don’t have people taking vengeance for themselves. The amount of punishment we meet should fit the crime, so reasonable people won’t feel like they have to supplement the system. For instance, let’s say we were adamant in executing each and every murder, and our justice system worked pretty much how we wished it would. Would a cop arresting a suspected murderer feel any inclination to rough the suspect up (off the books, of course) if he knew that if he were guilty, he was going to get executed? No, I don’t think so. That’s what you have justice for: so that people don’t go around harming each other because they don’t feel like proper punishment was applied. The whole reason why mythical figures like The Punisher exists is because people feel like the guilty are not being held accountable.

So when I say something like, “We need to execute Hillary Clinton for treason against America”, I am not against Hillary directly, but the things she did. If I believed the justice system would work to uncover all of the murders and traitorous acts she was engaged in and then hold her accountable, life for life (and people have died because of her, make no mistake), then that would be the end of my statement. I wouldn’t feel any anger at Hillary. I might even feel sorry for her and her family as I watch them buckle her down to the execution chair.

In other words, a properly functioning justice system would end pretty much all the contention we have in America. If we executed murderers, rapists, and such, we wouldn’t be so angry at murderers and rapists, but merely wait until they got the inevitable justice.

When I look at what happened over the weekend in Charlottesville, this is my impression. You had a bunch of racist neo-Nazis (false flag or otherwise) and you had a bunch of so-called anti fascists (who behave like fascists.) Both hated each other’s guts, both wanted blood, and the thing is, when someone wants something, they’re going to get it, one way or the other. How do you end the contention? Swift and fair justice. Take the people who initiated violence, hold them accountable, and make it clear that there is no reason for any retribution. Life for life. If someone dies because of the bad decisions of one or more people, they need to die for it, otherwise, we’re going to have more fighting and more deaths.

The good guys, meanwhile, know that justice is coming, in this life of the next. They don’t act except out of self-defense. They hold their hands out in an honest gesture of friendship. The endure bitter abuse and intolerance and even some degree of violence, turning the other cheek, so to speak, and only resort to violence as a last measure.

Keep that in mind.

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