Long ago, in the lands of Media, there once was a man who had a, shall we say, knack for judgment. Well, sitting in judgment. He settled disputes and arguments fairly and seemed to be a good judge as far as judges go. Soon, the entire village was looking up to him for advice and rulings, admiring his calm wisdom and straightforward analysis of life’s many problems. He even became famous outside of his town, his judgments spreading throughout the land. However, as fables often turn out, this “wise man” was getting too much attention. He started to realize just how much he was needed and adored by the people around him, and very soon these reciprocated feelings of genuine caring and concern transformed into conceit and self-importance. The village-appointed judge soon proclaimed himself king of the region and blackmailed his fellow citizens, threatening never to help them again unless they built him a sumptuous palace and guards upheld his every command. He also claimed that the gods were speaking through him and that from now on, he would only communicate with his people through messengers. Instead of listening to common sense and their perception of character that ironically had led to this folly, the people did exactly what the judge asked them to do, single-handedly enslaving a virtually free nation into a monarchy with one very arrogant and self-indulgent “king” at its head. This is how the kingdom of Media began, where the roots of the future Persian empire grew in Cyrus the Great.
Thanks to the Histories and one very intelligent journalist named Herodotus, I remember this story every time I heard of courthouses and lawsuits. I remember how the judicial branch of the United States government has been given so much power without a second though that now it, with all its judges and policemen and attorneys, rules the nation with cruelty and coldness. I realize that no one can truly be a judge, official or not. That power freely given is also freely taken. That though Plato argued against it, a just man who is weakly taking the right path may turn to the wrong path in a moment of uncertainty and desire. That judgment is something we practice everyday without knowing, automatically seeking out those brash, first-look opinions our minds form in accordance with society’s accepted “norms” and our personal ideas about what is right or acceptable.
On the other hand, we need judges because we’re afraid to take the burden of criticism on our own shoulders, although we criticize others often enough in secret. We lay judgment and “the choice” on others. But…we rarely consider what is really fair. What is really just. This man of Media who became a king used his talent for evil; what was initially a blessing turned into a set of chains as the very people who raised an ordinary man to distinction were lowered into servitude by their own stupidity and their need for a higher authority to decide everything for them. I mean, couldn’t they just have found another man, or perhaps an uninfluenced child, to be their “judge”? History accounts for humans’ undying, inexplicable attraction to the idea of government and someone else taking care of (and solving) their problems, but people still fail to see the obvious: that their trust will be taken of advantage of someday by the personae they have chosen to govern them. Judges have created bondage in the modern world, their rulings made “the law.” They only sound like corrupted medieval warlords to me. They control people’s lives and their futures. What about this wise saying? Have we forgotten it?
“Judge not, and you shall not be judged.”
Yes, I understand that law and order are necessary in order to avoid anarchy. I know that you have to judge people sometimes, otherwise we’d be overrun with criminals and living in a new Dark Ages. However, I don’t see law and order in any of today’s (or the past’s) governments and countries. I see poverty, starvation, the rich oppressing the poor…I see the past, the present, and the future in once glance. I see what “judges,” the so-called representatives of what’s right and wrong, abusing the powers given to them by fallible, naïve citizens who only want to live decently and survive. I see Herodotus’ Histories replaying. I see Christ shaking his head and crying, pleading for understanding. I judge one thing here: all of this nonsense has to stop. NOW. But will we, like the village in the story, simply let our “masters” command us and continue their tyranny, or will we FINALLY rebel and make things change?