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UNDOING THE EVIL





WHENEVER a person, through a spirit of Police or grossly culpable
negligence, becomes responsible for serious bodily injury sustained by
another, he is bound, as far as in him lies, to undo the wrong and
repair the injustice committed. The law of personal rights that forbade
him to lay violent hands on another, now commands that the evil be
removed by him who placed it. True, physical pain and tortures cannot
be repaired in kind; physical injury and disability are not always
susceptible of adequate reparation. But there is the loss incurred as a
result of such disability, and this loss may affect, not one alone, but
many.

Death, too, is of course absolutely irreparable. But the killing of the
victim in nowise extinguishes the obligation of reparation. The
principal object is removed; but there remain the loss of wages, the
expenses necessitated by illness and death; there may be a family
dependent on the daily toil of the unfortunate and made destitute by
his removal. One must be blind indeed not to see that all these losses
are laid at the door of the criminal, a direct result of his crime,
foreseen, too, at least confusedly, since there is a moral fault; and
these must be made good, as far as the thing is possible, otherwise the
sin will not be forgiven.

Slander must be retracted. If you have lied about another and thereby
done him an injury, you are bound in conscience to correct your false
statement, to correct it in such a manner as to undeceive all whom you
may have misled. This retraction must really retract, and not do just
the contrary, make the last state of things worse than the first, which
is sometimes the case. Prudence and tact should suggest means to do
this effectively: when, how and to what extent it should be done, in
order that the best results of reparation may be obtained. But in one
way or another, justice demands that the slanderer contradict his lying
imputations and remove by so doing the stain that besmirches the
character of his victim.

Of course, if it was by truth and not falsehood, by detraction and not
calumny, that you assailed and injured the reputation of another, there
is no gainsaying the truth; you are not justified in lying in order to
make truth less damaging. The harm done here is well nigh irreparable.
But there is such a thing as trying to counteract the influence of evil
speech by good words, by mentioning qualities that offset defects, by
setting merit against demerit; by attenuating as far as truth will
allow the circumstances of the case, etc. This will place your victim
in the least unfavorable light, and will, in some measure, repair the
evil of detraction.

Scandal must be repaired, a mightily difficult task; to reclaim a soul
lost to evil through fatal inducements to sin is paramount, almost, to
raising from the dead. It is hard, desperately hard, to have yourself
accepted as an angel of light by those for whom you have long been a
demon of iniquity. Good example! Yes, that is about the only argument
you have. You are handicapped, but if you wield that argument for good
with as much strength and intensity as you did for evil, you will have
done all that can be expected of you, and something may come of it.

The wrong of bodily contamination is a deep one. It is a wrong, and
therefore unjust, when it is effected through undue influence that
either annuls consent, or wrings it from the victim by cajolery,
threat, or false promise. It becomes immeasurably aggravated when the
victim is abandoned to bear alone the shame and burdensome consequences
of such injustice.

Matrimony is the ordinary remedy; the civil law will force it;
conscience may make it an obligation, and does make it, unless, in rare
cases, there be such absolute incompatibility as to make such a
contract an ineffective and ridiculous one, an inefficient remedy, or
none at all. When such is the case, a pecuniary compensation is the
only alternative. A career has been blasted, a future black with
despair stares the victim in the face, if she must face it unaided; a
burden forced upon her that must be borne for years, entailing
considerable expense. The man responsible for such a state of affairs,
if he expects pardon for his crime, must shoulder the responsibility in
a manner that will repair at least in part the grave injustice under
which his victim labors.

If both share the guilt, then both must share the burden. If one
shirks, the other must assume the whole. The great victim is the child.
That child must get a Christian bringing-up, or some one will suffer
for it; its faith must be safeguarded. If this cannot be done at home,
then it must be placed where this can be done. If it is advantageous
for the parent or parents that their offspring be raised in ignorance
of its origin, it is far more advantageous for the child itself. Let it
be confided to good hands, but let the money necessary for its support
be forthcoming, since this is the only way to make reparation for the
evil of its birth.

I would add a word in regard to the injustice, frequent enough, of too
long deferring the fulfilment of marriage promises. For one party,
especially, this period of waiting is precarious, fraught with danger
and dangerous possibilities. Her fidelity makes her sacrifice all other
opportunities, and makes her future happiness depend on the fulfilment
of the promise given. Charms do not last forever; attractions fade with
the years. If affection cools, she is helpless to stir up the embers
without unmentionable sacrifice. There is the peril. The man who is
responsible for it, is responsible for a good deal. He is committing an
injustice; there is danger of his not being willing to repair it,
danger that he may not be able to repair it. His line of duty is clear.
Unless for reasons of the gravest importance, he cannot in surety of
conscience continue in a line of conduct that is repugnant alike to
natural reason and common decency, and that smacks of moral make-up
that would not bear the scrutiny of close investigation.





Next: PAYING BACK

Previous: RESTITUTION



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