Thursday, August 29, 2019

Accepting our Finiteness

In Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, the protagonist, Raskolnikov is a poor but kind-hearted student. He plans to kill a  pawnbroker that he has been dealing with, an old lady, who he considers a "worm", squeezing money from the poor. What he wants to do is not a sin but a realization of justice. In the Eyes of the Believer of the Catholic Times, the writer reflects on what is sin beginning with Dostoevsky's novel.

But after killing the woman he is in great fear and self-denial. He meets a prostitute named Sonia, who is pure in heart, he is touched by her love and realizes that the old lady, who he considered no more than a worm is a dignified human being. He has remorse, confesses and is exiled to Siberia accompanied by Sonia and begins a new life, kissing the ground of his exile and yelling out: "I am a murderer".

Nowadays, the story of a woman in her 30s who killed her ex-husband brutally upset many of the citizens. She killed her ex-husband because it might interfere with her remarriage and felt little guilt for her actions. The writer was not comfortable with the news that more than 200,000 people petitioned she be executed quickly. Raskolnikov, who executed the "worm" and the woman who killed her ex-husband without guilt are they really not human and lack dignity?

Article 10 of our Constitution declares that "all citizens have dignity and value as human beings. According to this rule, not only the good man is dignified, but the worm-like old lady of "Crime and Punishment". Raskolnikov, who killed her and that woman in her 30s who felt no guilt have dignity.

Many of the teachers of religion go one step further and teach that we are all brothers and sisters and one with all of nature. They consider the killing of animals a sinful act. India's philosopher and one time president of India, Radhakrishnan, explains sin from the Hindu scriptures, Bhagavad Gita: "Sin is not just an act of transgression of rules or law, but sin is the individual's finiteness:  ignorance, and conviction that the self is independent of others."

This finiteness is a sin because an individual can not live without compromising himself against another. In reality we all owe our existence to others and we forget we are all connected to one another, and yet emphazise our indviduality and praise our independence. Convinced of this is where we sin.

Pope Francis also said: “This world is inherently beautiful and still a precious work of God. In this world, however, violence, divisions, conflicts and wars are frequent...  We are not able to escape from the prison of selfishness into which we have locked ourselves" (The Church of Mercy, p. 266).

We can not live without taking the life of another living being for food that is the reality but we should be temperate. We have no choice but to punish those who kill to protect society, but we still want to stop the death penalty in respect for the dignity and value of the person, and seek an alternative punishment.

In this life there is no way we can escape from finiteness but we can hopefully struggle to diminish our selfishness and self-centeredness, can we not?

No comments:

Post a Comment