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Can a Robber be justified?

It will be rude to yell at the human responses to a robber or any man of that kind seen in suspicious and unexpected situations. Thieves are common around the world, and they walk around with different mottos. Some are attempting to get a meal for the day while some are proving to make easy money out of avarice. Some thieves are culturally and socially unacceptable, but some are easily borne. Some are hidden and some are known. This article is some thought, you may call it crazy thoughts, after listening to a friend who had an encounter with a robber!

A robber robs! Recently, in India, at the residence of a friend of mine, a robber came around. It was around 1am on the day after Christmas. My friend came outside to turn off the light and to make sure that the doors are locked to realize a man, in the dress of a thief, hanging around the manger. The manger was specially built and embellished during the Christmas season to remind and remember the nativity of Christ. Christ came down from heaven, leaving His heavenly possessions for the human beings who were lost and were wandering around not knowing what to do. It contained shapes of Joseph, Mary, Jesus, Shepherds, Angels etc. The robber was attempting to take these little pieces!

It was God’s grace that this robber was a good one, at least in some sense, that his attempt was not to harm anyone, neither was it to grab money and other possessions from the house. The family surrounded this young man, who received an iron pole with him, but was left out. The police was called and they came later to grab him. The reason for this robber to stay calm and not attempting to resist or even escape still remains unexplainable to me. I would think that the first instinct is to run away when the robbery is caught. In that location were no police or any young, enthusiastic muscle men surrounding him.

This takes me to the question: “Who is a Robber?” The literal definition might read that one who robs is called a robber. But don’t we have guidelines, the gray side and so on while we define robberies. Don’t we define the strengths of the robberies? For example, if you see a malnourished and hungry man grabbing some food from a store or from some rich person, what will the initial thoughts be? Even though our conscience tells us that it was a wrong act, the human value comes into play to forgive the mistake. But can it be justified? It more or less depends on the psychological state of the human beings. Some might get him down and some might let him live. Either way, what the robber did is wrong, but to forgive is a God given quality for humans!

There are other kinds of robberies too. There are many who rob the government through corruption, the band robberies, identity thieves and many more, whose intention is selfishness and greed. Snatching away the money of others for their own luxury is what we find out here. Some do it very cunningly that the society will support! Here, the act is the same, but a different motto. These people will have more influence too, and a better chance to escape from any legal actions. This shows a corrupted society.

Thinking about the first robber, who is robbing for food, some insights might be helpful. Do we ever look beyond the scene and think about the reason of his action? If it is hunger, we might say the person is lazy to do any work. What if the person does not have a job and is not getting one at all after multiple tries? Do we, as a society, have any concern over these people? The poverty ratios and those who do not have food to eat even once a day are higher than we think. The reason for it is usually not the laziness. It is often the past that has brought them into lower socioeconomic status, which is not improving at all. The capitalistic societies with the rich getting richer are a newer version of the slavery system in the past.

Marber stated that “the proportion of the world’s population living in poverty declined from over 80 percent in 1820 to under 15 percent in 2000” (77). Even though we claim technological advancement, higher living standards etc. Life for many still remains in the dark. Sometimes we bring up to globalization! The basic structure of globalization, being developed by the rich and developed nations, has been in favor of them, improving their economies. It has not improved the developing or underdeveloped countries, according to the promises. “The so-called global village is a world whose basic ground rules are being centrally managed to the fullest extent that grossly unequal power allows. Yes, nations have never been equal, historically speaking, but the distinctive character of modern globalization is that it has made international inequality much worse” (Ilesanmi 80).

The world of human beings is divided into multiple sects based on similarities and differences between each other. The similarities, in the present century as well as in the past centuries, are mainly based on the socioeconomic status of the people. The rich form communities with the rich while the poor stay together. The privileged stay together while those without privileges stay together. The rich and the privileged, those with a higher socioeconomic status, keep the power and rule over the rest. This classic scenario has been prevailing for centuries, even when many influential social activists attempted to change it. From Jesus Christ, who said to give everything to the poor, to Karl Marx who brought communism, to Gandhi who fought non-violently against discrimination and for freedom, the world has seen many leaders and many are even following them. But the inequality still prevails.

In Christian understanding, free will, equality and love are three essential characteristics of humans and they are both constructive and destructive. The free will can be used or abused. Equality and love can or cannot be practiced. If the free will is used for constructive and good purposes that promote equality and love, the world that we currently live in might be different. The privileged and the unprivileged, the oppressors and the oppressed etc. have always been present. The unprivileged and the oppressed always struggle with their lives and it continues from generation to generation as a tradition (Osthathious, 2004). In India, which had the caste system, the low caste people were considered untouchables by the upper castes. Even though the government assured an equal opportunity to all, the majority still lives in a lower socioeconomic status.

The environment present in these situations is very vulnerable to immorality. The ethical and moral values learned might be totally different compared to the privileged classes. Access to the services and knowledge about them are different. And the majority of the privileged will not leave their privileges for the unprivileged. Understanding the values taught by Christianity, I consider holding hands with the poor for their social and economic wellbeing as an essential duty. Supporting them with knowledge, time and money are very essential. The theology of a classless society (2004) concluded “What we need is a world family in which each member works for the whole family and the whole family takes care of the old and the sick who cannot work. The purpose of the work will be the benefit of all and not the benefit of the worker alone” (Osthathious p. 39). Even though the above mentioned statement is overwhelming, an attempt to do the least could be done.

So, shall we blame the robber who robs for food? Or shall we get together for an action plan to eliminate poverty, or at least to provide food, clothing and shelter for those who don’t have them? Easy to think, hard to practice! Lord, please guide us all.

Ilesanmi, Simeon O. “Leave No Poor Behind: Globalization and the Imperative of Socioeconomic and Development Rights from an African Perspective.” Journal of Religious Ethics 32.1 (2004): 71-94. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 10 Dec. 2010.
Marber, Peter. “Globalization and Its Contents.” Annual Editions: Global Issues 10/11. Ed. Robert M. Jackson. 26. New York: McGraw-Hills, 2010.
Osthathious, G. M (2004). The sin of being rich in a poor world. Thiruvalla, India: CSS.
Osthathious, G. M (2004). Theology of a classless society. Thiruvalla, India: CSS.