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The Rendering Harmless Doctrine of Compassion (Long Version)

The Rendering Harmless Doctrine of Compassion (Long Version)

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Published by Charles Day
An essay about the moral, legal, and military Implications of responding to aggression with compassion and understanding rather than revenge and retaliation. The Doctrine applies to intentional and provokative aggression, and to other issues deemed aggressive or harmful to human, animals, and planet.
An essay about the moral, legal, and military Implications of responding to aggression with compassion and understanding rather than revenge and retaliation. The Doctrine applies to intentional and provokative aggression, and to other issues deemed aggressive or harmful to human, animals, and planet.

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Published by: Charles Day on Aug 28, 2009
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05/18/2012

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RENDERING HARMLESS DOCTINE: A COMPASSIONATERESPONSE TO AGGRESSIONCharles Day*www.desmoinesmeditation.orgThe Rendering Harmless Doctrine advocates responding toaggression with understanding and compassion and offers a way tohonor and reconcile the duty to defend oneself, family, nation, andworld with the religious, spiritual, and humanitarian principles of compassion, forgiveness, non-violence, and pacifism.All responses to aggression by individuals, groups, and nationsshould be motivated by understanding and compassion—not anger,revenge, or retaliation—with the intention of rendering aggressorsharmless—not to harm or punish them. Motives, methods, and goalsshould aim at ending the suffering that both causes and results fromaggression and restoring peace and harmony for all concerned,perpetrators as well as victims.The Rendering Harmless Doctrine is based on three assumptions.First, individuals—not gangs, mobs, cells, or nations—are responsiblefor aggression, assault, mayhem, terrorism, atrocities, genocide, andwar. Second, these individuals, acting alone, as group members, or as leaders of nations, can cause such horrific harm that reasonablepersons are morally obligated to stop them, using peaceful means andlegal authority whenever possible. And third, history reveals, religionsteach, and social and psychological studies confirm that anger begetsanger, aggression begets aggression, and war begets war.Responding with anger and aggression only causes, aggravates, andperpetuates the cycle of anger and aggression, either immediately or in the long run.If a government aggresses against its own citizens or fails to protectthem, such as in government sponsored or condoned genocide, or if a government attacks or supports aggression against another government, appropriate legal authorities should collectively decidewhether, when, and how to intervene. Diplomatic negotiations, civildisobedience, economic sanctions, containment, regime change,military combat and occupation, and other interventions should avoid
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harming the innocent, while rendering harmless those responsible for the aggression. Preemptive and preventative wars should not occur.And local, national, and international laws, treaties, agreements, andpolicies that promote peace and further the Rendering HarmlessDoctrine should be enacted and implemented.In the system of criminal justice, capture, arrest, trial, sentencing,incarceration, and rehabilitation should be based on protecting theinnocent, accepted principles of law, mitigating circumstances,restorative justice and restitution, and the age, physical andpsychological health and criminal history of offenders. The risk of recidivism and the severity of its consequences should determineconditions of probation, imprisonment, and parole. Capitalpunishment should end.Only after all diplomatic and peaceful efforts fail to achieve conflictresolution and end aggression might harm regrettably be risked inapprehending dangerous individuals, criminals, terrorists, and tyrantsand turning them over to the appropriate authority for justice. Non-lethal weapons and tactics should be used. Civilian, lawenforcement, and military responses should protect the innocent,avoid infrastructure and collateral damage, apprehend responsibleleaders and combatants, and prevent the aggression from escalatinginto further domestic violence, riots, gang warfare, or civil or international war.The Rendering Harmless Doctrine recognizes that the victims of aggression and their families, communities, and countries do suffer and often become angry and afraid and desire revenge andretribution. But it holds that only when these negative emotions aregoverned by understanding, compassion,and forgiveness, along witha desire to simply render the aggressors harmless without hurtingthem or others, will the cycle of anger and aggression end and peaceand harmony prevail.The Rendering Harmless Doctrine may also be used as a frameworkfor thinking about how to handle issues, other than intentionalphysical aggression, deemed aggressive or harmful to humans, other living beings, and our ecology.
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