Rubin “Hurricane” Carter died April 20, 2014 at the age of 76 of prostate cancer. Retribution, is a word that goes hand in hand with words like atonement, requital, pay back, and one getting their just deserts. Retribution’s cost is high and it offers little return. When someone like Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a black boxer convicted of a triple homicide in 1966, retribution and clearing the family name was top priority. It took nearly 20 years away of Carter’s life, but in 1985, Carter’s case was reopened and the judge overturned the conviction. It seems that someone, somewhere, is always looking for retribution in one form or another. Yet, little is their patience level to wait for their time to be acquitted. Think of the patience “Hurricane” Carter had to have had each and every day when requests for a retrial were denied, letters returned, and phone calls slammed in Carter’s ear, being told to leave well enough alone and accept the cards fate had dealt. Because retribution was on Carter’s mind, those refusals only strengthened the will to survive and come hell of high water, nothing was going to stop a desire to walk out that prison in New Jersey a free man. One day, “Hurricane” Carter would KO his final opponent: Injustice!
Being wrongfully accused of something that one did not do rips like a knife that has been plunged through a person’s back piercing their heart. To add insult to injury, the accused is “black-listed” for life so that everywhere they go, people will stop and stare, wag their heads in disappointment proclaiming guilty until proven innocent. Is not the accused supposed to be innocent until proven guilty? It is like putting the proverbial apple cart in front of the horse expecting something to happen which rarely, if ever does. When nothing is put together correctly, it is foolishness to expect something out of nothing. Carter made sure that all the proverbial ducks were lined up in a row, dotted every “I,” crossed every “T” in making sure the evidence that was secured would also be the evidence to overturn 19 years of wrongful imprisonment. After Carter’s release in 1985, Carter spent the majority of his life working as an advocate for the wrongfully accused, helping them KO their injustice too.
Thom Kidrin became friends with Carter and after visiting Carter in prison, Kidrin said that Carter did not have anger or resentment towards the ones who found him guilty and that was Carter’s greatest strength. During an inter with PBS three years ago, Carter said “That no matter the jury sentenced me to three life sentences in prison, I was not going to give up. Just because the jury, a group of misinformed people found me guilty, it did not make me that way. Because I was not guilty, I was not going to act the way a guilty person does.” Carter’s tenacity in the ring served as a buffet while in prison, after convicted of that triple murder, having the case re-opened and found guilty again, and having to go through the pain of being abandoned by numerous supporters; Carter by all outward appearances never wanted retribution to the jury who convicted him. That shows great maturity and the ability not to do to them as they did unto him. Carter KO’s betrayal.
When someone wrongs another, the first gut reaction is revenge, followed by secret planning, more revenge, etc, etc. But, what if, for all discussion purposes around the water cooler at work, someone was doing only good for those around them was falsely accused and sentenced to die, what then? Where does retribution come into play at that time? There was a man who was doing nothing but good to people and was accused of insurrection. The government found the man guilty not of insurrection, but by what comments the man said of himself. The man was tortured and put to death. Three days later that man rose from the dead. That man was Jesus. Scripture tells that when Jesus was accused, nothing was said back to the accusers, which confused them but at the same time, ticked them off. Today, many call Christians wimps, liking them to throw rugs, easily stepped upon and taken advantage of and made fun of. When these things happen, retribution is the farthest thing from their mind. In fact, they will go the second mile, turn the other cheek, do unto others as God has done to them.
A time is coming where people will clamor more and more for retribution towards another person’s offense against them and demand to be fully compensated. But for the Christian who commits themselves to the One who judges justly, what of them? If they are put on trial being like Christ, what then? Retribution is the farthest thing from their mind. But if they suffer or are put to death because of their faith, those who condemned them will face a heavenly judge who will bring everything out into the open and it will be made plain. Christians receive a different kind of retribution towards their accusers according to Isaiah 54:17. Is retribution still warranted? Is it needed? Leave retribution to those who are bitter. Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome the evil with good and commit the offense to the only one who can truly do something about it. The cost of retribution is high, and the return is very little. But if one is willing, they too, like “Hurricane” Carter, can KO injustice of any kind and at any time.
Blog by John Thomas