"Eye For An Eye" And The Deterioration Of Civilization

The Biblical phrase "eye for an eye" can summon an almost gruesome, primitive image: a knife wielding caveman removing another caveman’s eye while others hold him down. An image like this can make it difficult to believe that this phrase is profoundly important to civilized behavior and justice, and is historically very significant in the development of civilization. Civilized? How can taking someone’s eye be civilized? Well… a little thought will help answer that question.

This law is a two edged sword. It protects the injured by insuring an equitable settlement when an eye, or any other body part or possession, is lost due to a deliberate act or negligence by another person. The value of the lost eye will, based on this law, be compensated to the injured person by the order of the court and enforced by the authority of the government. The intent is not to remove the eye of the injurer but to make sure the full value of the eye and the effects of the damage to the injured person become the responsibility of the injurer. This is reasonable justice.

This law also protects the injurer from the government and the injured party. Based on this law the injurer only owes the equivalent value and effects of the lost eye to the person who has been injured. The government and courts are prohibited, based on this law, from taking more from the injurer than what is just and equitable. If the eye was damaged because of criminal or malicious intent then there are other statutes which also carry limits on the punishment which can be given for criminal acts. These limits protect the needs of the victim.

Often people who see only the criminal side of an action forget the victim's damages and needs. The victim can often be harmed further by over-reaching criminal prosecution or carelessness on the part of the government. The deterioration of a civilized society can be seen when the penalty for an injurer consistently overrides or ignores restitution for the victim. The victim is left standing on the side without an eye while the state seeks damages from the injurer and ignores the victim's losses. The victim has now been victimized twice. The other side of that coin of injustice becomes visible when the law or courts allow a victim to gain more than what is just considering the victim's true losses. That injustice makes a victim out of the injurer and an injurer out of the victim.

The goal of this law is to bring balance to civilization and justice for all parties involved. “Eye for an eye” is a great law when understood in its context.

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