Justice vs Revenge, Consequence vs Punishment

Justice vs Revenge, Consequence vs Punishment

In my life as a human, husband and father, I was often confronted with the four words above. So I decided to highlight them all at once and see what shows up.

Let’s start with the differences. “Revenge is, by nature, personal; justice is impersonal, impartial, and both a social and legal phenomenon” and “Revenge is predominantly emotional; justice primarily rational”:


The difference between consequences and punishment is extremely important when it comes to child education:


“Whether they are natural or logical, consequences help us all to learn and grow. When kids experience the results of their actions, they learn to make better choices and improve their behaviors. In short, consequences = learning.

Importantly, a consequence respects the child’s right to make a decision, even if it’s not a good one. It’s not a withdrawal of love or a rejection. It’s a matter-of-fact learning experience in which you maintain a better relationship with your child as you hold him accountable.”


“The essential difference between consequences and punishments is our sincere and honest sharing. We can’t be gentle parents without taking care of our personal boundaries… and the consequences of that kind of modeling are all good.”

Makes sense, right? But guess how many parents actually live that. Not many, unfortunately. Even being aware of such information, I still make mistakes! So then is it surprising that after being educated with punishment, most adults repeat the same flawed pattern? Sometime soon, this circle must be broken.

If children currently have little opportunity for a consequence-based education, perhaps there is a way to change ourselves as adults. Could forgiveness and progressive justice^ be the way? Unfortunately, society is still fixated with “putting the problem away”:


“Punishment is the imposition of an undesirable or unpleasant outcome upon a group or individual, meted out by an authority—in contexts ranging from child discipline to criminal law—as a response and deterrent to a particular action or behavior that is deemed undesirable or unacceptable. The reasoning may be to condition a child to avoid self-endangerment, to impose social conformity”, etc.

When it comes to prison, nowhere in the world is its dismal lefficiency^ highlighted better than in that country with the highest per-capita imprisoned population in the world. It’s a country that I think can’t dare to call itself “land of the free” anymore: the USA^. Of course, prison is a bad solution no matter where on Earth, except perhaps some experimental prisons. What I advocate is Prison 2.0^ (or more precisely “Justice 2.0”).

But back to punishment. It gets worse:


“Retributive justice is a theory of punishment that when an offender breaks the law, justice requires that he or she suffer in return.”

This is basically “eye for an eye”. And as an artist^ once said: “an eye for an eye makes the world go blind.”

Personally, I believe that the vast majority of criminals, especially non-violent ones, are a product of society. Confronting our evolutionary weaknesses^, social contribution inequality^ and education^ will have as a consequences the closure of anywhere between 70% to 99% of all forced confinement institutions.

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