An eye for an eye is never the answer

By The Editorial Board 11 June 2024, 10:00AM

“An eye for an eye would leave the whole world blind.” This quote by Mahatma Gandhi is a reference to the famous passage from Leviticus in the Bible.

Gandhi’s point is that simplistic retribution is not the solution to the world’s ills. The consequences of the “eye for an eye” philosophy result in an endless cycle of violence. That is why credit must be given to Faleula high chief Loau Keneti Sio for calming the situation in the village that could have escalated.

The situation in Faleula has been volatile and there are angry people. According to the information that has been provided, it all started with a land dispute last Tuesday. This led to an altercation between the family and the high chief they were visiting. The events leading up to who started the altercation are yet to be determined.

Dealings involving land owned by the village should be done in the presence of the full village council because there is no one owner of traditional lands. If this was the approach taken, things would have been calmer and more peaceful.

It is understandable that the village is angry because a high chief and his wife were also subjected to alleged assault.

Despite what happened, Loau has come forward and asked the village council for a more peaceful resolution to the problem. We have seen in the past, how things regarding land or insult to a high chief can escalate into unwanted violence.

There could have been brawls, and fights between families, and who knows, a life or two could have been lost. This is the type of time when cool heads should prevail.

There is already a matter before the courts regarding land between Afega and the Leauvaa. Although, the Afega situation is different from what happened in Faleula, in all such cases there is a need for cooler heads.

Sadly, the Pese Uele have lost their home and five vehicles in an alleged arson attempt where Molotov cocktails were thrown. This was uncalled for. The motive behind the alleged attack has not been ascertained, but the family thinks it has to do with the dispute with the chief.

It was also good to see that the village council has said they would look for the people behind the attacks. This is a good way to restore law and order within the village. However, the village council was concerned with the alleged behaviour of the Pese Uele family and their approach to their high chief, which they felt was disrespectful.

The village council was of the mind to banish the family and uproot all of their belongings. This was stopped by Loau who has called for a peaceful resolution to the problem.

Such cases are not new. Over the last two years, plenty have been banished from their villages for doing far less. A man was hog-tied and he was being taken to the ‘umu’. There were some families who are without one or both parents because they were banished for certain reasons.

Our tradition and culture are unique and it is beautiful. If the proper approach is taken, no matter how grave the problem is, the village council and chiefs, our matai, would always look for a solution and where there is no solution, tradition and culture allow for a peaceful resolution.

Our culture and tradition are based on respect for the elders and the hierarchy. The matai are there for guidance and wisdom.

Violence is never the answer. Look at Ukraine and Russia, they are still fighting. The conflict that was initiated by the October 7 attack by Hamas has now led to the death of so many innocent children and civilians in Gaza.

Similarly, if such incidents are allowed to become violent and the chiefs do not provide guidance, the cycle of violence will continue. This culture of violence is then reflected in homes where women and children are victims, this then translated to the sports fields where supporters brawl, and then youth from different villages become engrossed in a never-ending fights.

Loau has done the right thing by asking the village council to deal with the matter in a peaceful manner. That is what chiefs are supposed to do and not use their authority to incite more violence.

There need to be more chiefs with the same mindset, then maybe we can deal with the culture of violence plaguing our society.

By The Editorial Board 11 June 2024, 10:00AM
Samoa Observer

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