=235= Stories to Tell: Judgement

it is another day in the village named, “Jidto”. Peter and Ben were meeting up in the morning, an unsual sight.

There were two men that needed to settle something, they therefore went to Peter for his wisdom and discernment. This time, however, Peter could not make a proper judgement, so he bought it to Ben for his input.

The case went like this. Both men were fishermen. They were in fact partners. One day, they had a huge load of fish and they were expecting to get a good profit from it. They both agreed that the load had about twenty fishes in it. The first man claimed that he brought the whole load and sold it in the morning. However, it turned out that the market owner was unwilling to pay for everything that they caught, so instead of making a huge profit, it barely covers the cost; instead of 100 silver coins or 10 gold coins, they only had 55 silver coins. The second man was angry with the first believing that he must have kept some of the coins. Peter had trouble with this case because both party’s story were just as likely. He asked the market owner and the market owner claimed that he paid for what he got. However, he couldn’t remember exactly how much he paid for the fishes. He remembered that he paid for the fishes close to noon, for he remembered that once the first man left, the bell rang. The first man explained that he was held back because he was talking to a friend before he went and sold the fishes.

When presented before Ben, Ben could judge based on the emotions that neither was wrong, but the first man was hiding something. And so he asked the man, “who is this friend you were talking to?”

The man replied, “He is a close relative of mine, his name is ‘Dan’.”

“What were you two talking about?” Asked the judge.

“We were chatting about our families.” The man answered while figetting around. 

“For almost four hours?”

“Yeah, I went to his house for a while”

“So what did you talk about there?”

“I told you, about our families!”

“What about your families did you two talk about?”

The man stayed silent.

“Let me repeat myself, what did you two talk about?”

The man stayed silent.

“Excuse me sir, but you have to answer me, if not I will not be able to give you a proper judgement”

The man sighed. “We were talking about our financial problems.”

“What kind of financial problems do you or Dan have?” Asked Ben.

“I have very little, but Dan was going through a lot of debt. Almost 50 gold coins.” Answered the man.

“So what did you do?”

“He had two kids and a wife to feed and he doesn’t have a job because no one would hire someone that looks like a beggar!” He said without answering the question.

“What did you do” Ben said firmly.

The man sighed and finally said, “I gave him half the fishes for him to feed the family and for him to sell so that he has enough to pull through the crisis.”

So after understanding the situation, Ben asked another question, “So why did you lie?”

The man answered, “I need my share of coins to support my family as well, if i give everything to him, my family might starve!”

Ben analysed the situation and decided for the judgement to be that he will not get his share in this load of fish and for the next 10 loads of fish that they catch, he will get a lesser share. Instead of fifty fifty, he will only get thirty percent of it; enough for him to get by, but not too much such that he doesn’t get his punishment.

When the judgement was put in place both men were satisfied with the result and returned home. Peter however found it unwise to give the first man such a partial sentence. He believes that if one isn’t punished properly, the first time they commit the crime, they will not learn their lesson and would commit it again. Upon hearing his opinion(they were walking), Ben accidentally tripped over a chair and fell flat down! Both Peter and Ben laughed! Peter helped him up and they both say down. Ben started to explain his sentence. Ben told Peter that he thought it through. If he had jailed the man, the second man would have trouble finding another partner to help him fish and the man would have trouble to support his family. If he had ordered the Dan to return the money to them, Dan’s family would still starve. By having a more lenient sentence benefits both men—the first men would still have enough to survive, the second would have a greater share of the fish—and Dan’s would not starve to death.

Ben told Peter that his focus was not just to make a judgement that is right, he had to ensure that all parties would be able to live decently. Ben told Peter that the criminals that he sent to jail are human too. Some of them had families to take care of. Some commit the crime just to be able to support their families. So Ben made it a point to ensure that these family members gets taken care of. He told Peter that instead of just focussing on the fact that he cheated the money away, we should also see that he had the compassion to help Dan.

When Peter heard this, he agreed and approved of Ben’s judgement. Peter then went to Dan’s place and offered to make clothes for the whole household. A week later, the first man came to Peter and told him that Dan had found a job! He is now working in a farm as a helper and is receiving a stable salary.

In response to the news Peter and Ben when to their usual bar and celebrated!



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