Opinion

Taking law into one's hands is a foolish strategy

Taking law into one's hands is a foolish strategy
  • Among human beings, no society is thinkable in which individuals are free to take the law into their own hands in that fashion.

  • Yet, indeed, human individuals often behave just so badly as to invite to themselves intense and widespread dislike and even hatred.

  • But the advice is always the same: Never allow your hatred of another person’s behaviour to mislead you into reacting in a manner which is, socially, even more reprehensible.

  • Even if another human being behaves in a fashion that really enrages you, the civiilised rule is: Try never to take the law into your own hands.

On page one of its Wednesday, June 12, number, the Daily Nation described as “foolishness or daredevilry” a reportedly desperate attempt by a university student to enter State House, Nairobi, by climbing the wall. If true, it was, indeed, worse than foolish.

MISBEHAVED

In all countries, to try to enter in that fashion into the residence of the Head of State is like trying to commit suicide. The guards will see you as endangering the life of the country’s number one citizen and will probably shoot you down. Indeed, not many will condemn the police for having done so.

Contrariwise, socially intelligent members of the public are likely to see the police as having done their sacred duty to defend the Head of State and liberally congratulate them upon it. Indeed, whenever you behave rashly, the guards are likely to feel called upon to act. Yet they might not necessarily cause any overwhelming national or even international hue and cry.

As the Nation pointed out on Wednesday, most human beings the world over would condemn your action as “foolishness or daredevilry”. To be quite sure, intense dislike – hatred – of a person is a common human condition. Fortunately, however, most human beings seem to know that you cannot always translate your hatred of another human being into a murder and go scot free.

Among human beings, no society is thinkable in which individuals are free to take the law into their own hands in that fashion. Yet, indeed, human individuals often behave just so badly as to invite to themselves intense and widespread dislike and even hatred. But the advice is always the same: Never allow your hatred of another person’s behaviour to mislead you into reacting in a manner which is, socially, even more reprehensible. Even if another human being behaves in a fashion that really enrages you, the civiilised rule is: Try never to take the law into your own hands. Instead, the truly civilised rule is to try to ensure that the law takes its own course against the person who has misbehaved.

UNFORTUNATE

In short, then, never rush murderously or otherwise thoughtlessly against any human being even if he or she has behaved in a manner that actively offends your sense of good social order. There are a hundred and one more humane ways in which you can try to get your own back whenever you think that another person has treated you unjustly.

Even if, on any occasion, a person has very badly misrepresented or mistreated you, do not try to get your own back in a manner that goes against any of the statutes by which Kenyans and their visitors are expected to behave all the time. For if you do, it is against you that those same statutes will be activated.

And you might have to pay very dearly for it. For, in all countries, many human beings assume the quite unfortunate attitude that government was invented merely to tyrannise human beings or because members of a government enjoy seeing human beings scurry like rats to obey them. Indeed, I know countries in which governments behave exactly like that.

But that is exactly why critics condemn such governments as tyrannies or dictatorships. Yet criticism of a government activity is not necessarily intended to topple it. From many critics, it aims only to help the concerned government to fulfill all the promises that it made to the public during the national elections.

As is well known all over the wide world, there are individuals in all cabinets and all civil service systems who use their positions to invade the public’s coffers. Those are the cause of most anti-government comments.