I wanna destroy you! And when I have destroyed you, I’ll come picking at your bone and you won’t have a single atom left to call your own. – The Soft Boys
It’s fairly easy to get to the bottom of the psychology behind the wishful belief in the concept of Heaven. Most people consider themselves at least reasonably good, decent and kind and — if unburdened with the knowledge of the Catholic Church’s ridiculously extensive list of mortal sins that more or less assures you will burn in hell if you are even a shade less morally upright than a celibate monk — they are fairly certain they will be rewarded in the hereafter. That’s also, incidentally, why these same people are reasonably certain that there is a such thing as the hereafter.
But what about the other side of this theological equation? What motivates a person to grasp at a belief in that pit of eternal torment called Hell? This is also quite simple to deduce. The existence of people like Donald Trump and Joe Arpaio and the fact that such unsympathetic tyrants so often seem to go to their graves without ever having to answer for their willful inhumanity is what transforms the belief in Hell from something to be feared into something that’s embraced.
The notion of justice is subjective. What one person finds fair, another may deem inequitable. Nothing else needs to be said of justice to prove that it cannot exist as a Universal law. We like to call a person’s deserved and apparently random come-uppance a case of cosmic justice, because it seems to align with our desire for the Universe — or God — to be an eternally reliable arbiter and dispenser of justified punishment and reward. We’ve even co-opted and redefined the Eastern concept of Karma to mean essentially the same thing so that hipsters can take up yoga and meditation and sleep in on Sundays while still basically subscribing to the whole Judeo-Christian philosophy. I’d admonish such people to just ditch the mantras and go back to church, because they cannot be bothered to actually look into the real meaning of concepts that are so counter-intuitive to the Western mind that it literally takes years just to intellectually grasp them. But here’s a start: karma doesn’t mean what you think it does and it has absolutely nothing to do with “cosmic justice”.
So what’s to be done about people like Donald Trump and Joe Arpaio? I’m afraid if I answered my own question with complete honesty, I’d soon be paid a visit by some men in black suits and mirrored sunglasses. In other words, aside from unsavory and impotent revenge fantasies, there’s nothing to be done about the men themselves. We can only offer our help and support to those who are most affected by their cruel and draconian actions and work within the current system, such as it is, to force their ouster so that we can begin to undo the damage they’ve caused.
We may not be able to exact justice in the ways we would like, but every one of us can do our part to ease the suffering of others. Since self-styled strongmen, fascists and authoritarians despise such voluntary charity and natural empathy, perhaps that’s where some small modicum of justice can be found. If you really want to send a resounding “fuck you” to those who delight in causing suffering to others, a compassionate heart must be your weapon of vengeance. Let’s fill ourselves with love and go kick some ass.