THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SPIRITISM

Allan Kardec

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DUELLING

11. A person is only truly worthy if, when thinking of life as a journey which leads to a determined point, they take little heed of the roughness of the way and do not allow their footsteps to turn aside from the straight and narrow path. With their gaze firmly set on a distant point to be reached, it is of no importance to them that briars and thorns threaten to scratch, as these do not impede progress. To devote one's time to avenging an affront is to recoil before life's ordeals and is always a crime in the eyes of God; and if you were not beguiled, as indeed you are, by your own prejudices, you would see it as being ridiculous and supreme madness.

It is a crime to commit homicide by duelling, as even your own laws recognize. No one has the right, under any circumstances, to make an attempt against the life of a fellow creature as this is, I repeat, a crime in the eyes of God who has traced the line of conduct required to be followed. In this case, more than in any other occurance, you are your own judge. Remember, you will be pardoned only in as much as you are able to pardon others. Through the act of pardoning you draw near to the Lord, since clemency is akin to strength. While even a drop of blood drawn by the hands of Man flows upon the Earth the true Kingdom of God, wherein will reign peace and love which will banish animosity, discord and wars forever, will still not have been implanted on this planet. When this happens the word 'duel' will exist in your language only as a distant and vague remembrance of a past that is gone. Then no other antagonism will exist amongst mankind, apart from the noble rivalry of righteousness. ADOLF, Bishop of Argel (Marmande, 1861).

12. Beyond all doubt, in certain cases duelling may constitute a test of physical courage, of disdain for life. But unquestionably it is a proof of moral cowardice, just as suicide is. The suicide has not the courage to face the vicissitudes of life, whereas the duellist cannot support offences. Was it not Christ who said there is more honour and value in presenting the left cheek to he who has hit you on the right, than in avenging an offence? Did He not say to Peter in the Garden of Olives: 'Put away your sword because he who kills with the sword shall also perish by the sword'? In so saying did He not condemn for ever the act of duelling? In fact, my children, what kind of courage comes from a violent disposition, from a bloody and wrathful temperament which bellows at the slightest offence? What greatness can be found in a person who at the least insult believes that only blood can repair the damage? Let him tremble! For, from the bottom of his conscience a voice will persist in saying: "Cain! Cain! What have you done to your brother?" And he will answer that it was necessary to spill blood in order to save his honour. Then the voice will reply: "In the few minutes that remain to you of your earthly life, you thought only to save your honour before men, but you never thought to save it before God!" Poor wretch! How much blood will Christ demand of you for all the violence He has received? Was it not enough that you injured Him with thorns and lances? That you put on Him an infamous garment, and that in the middle of His atrocious agony, you made Him listen to the mockery and derision that was showered upon Him? How many reparations has He asked of you for your many offences? The last cry of the Shepherd was a supplication to God in favour of His torturers! Oh! Be like Him! Forgive and pray for those who offend you.

My friends, remember the precept: 'Love one another.' Then for every blow received through hate, you will be able to reply with a smile and to every affront, you will offer forgiveness. Without doubt the world will rise up in fury and treat you as a coward. So, lift your head up high and show you are not afraid to gird yourself with thorns as Christ did, and that your hand does not wish to be accomplice to an assassination authorized by false ideas of honour, that are nevertheless nothing more than pride and self-conceit When God created Man, did He bestow the right of life and death one over the other? No, this right was given only to Nature for the purpose of reconstruction and reorganization, whereas you are not permitted to dispose even of yourselves. The duellist then, just as the suicide, will find himself marked by blood when he comes before God. For both of these the Supreme Judge will reserve long and harsh penalties. If this same Judge has threatened all who call their fellow beings by the name of Raca, how much more severe will be the punishment for those who reach His presence with the blood of their brothers and sisters on their hands! - SAINT AUGUSTIN (Paris, 1862).

13. The duel, once called God's justice, is one of the most barbaric customs still persisting in some human societies. What would you say, however, if you saw two adversaries being plunged into boiling water or submitted to the contact of red hot iron, in order to put an end to their dispute? The one who is right being he who best suffers the test? Would you not classify these customs as being unreasonable and senseless? Well, duelling is far worse than all this. For the dextrous duellist it is nothing short of murder, practised in cold blood with all due premeditation, since he is certain of the efficiency of the blow to be dealt. For the adversary, who is almost sure to succumb by virtue of his weakness and inability, it is suicide committed after cold reflection. I know that on many occasions the person has sought to avoid the consequences of the criminal alternative by placing the responsibility for the act upon chance. Is this not going back, under another name, to the ideas from the Middle Ages of God's Judgement? We remind you that in those times Man was infinitely less guilty. It is true that the very use of the words 'God's Judgement' reveals a naive faith, but it was always some small degree of faith in the Justice of God, Who could never allow the innocent to succumb, whereas a duel resorts to brute force to such an extent that frequently the one who was offended is the one who succumbs.

Oh, senseless conceit, foolish vanity and insane pride, when will you be substituted by Christian charity, by love of one's fellow creatures and by humility, all of which were prescribed and exemplified by Christ? This will only happen when Man ceases to be dominated by these monstrous preconceptions, which the laws are impotent to repress because it is not enough to prohibit evil. For this to occur it is necessary for the source of goodness and the horror of evil to live jointly in the hearts of all humanity. - A Protecting Spirit (Bordeaux, 1861).

14. "What will they say about me," you frequently ask, "if I refuse to make the reparation that is being demanded of me or if I do not complain about those who offend me?" Those like you who are foolish, those who are backward, will censure you. But those who have been enlightened by the beacon of intellectual and moral progress will say that you have proceeded with true wisdom. Let us reflect then for a moment. Due to a word, sometimes said without thinking or the wish to offend, coming from one of your fellow beings, your pride is hurt, so you then reply scathingly and there stems a provocation. Before the decisive moment arrives ask yourself if you are behaving like a Christian. What will you have to answer to society for if you rob it of one of its members? Think of the remorse of having deprived a woman of her husband, a mother of her child, the children of their father and with this their means of sustenance! For sure, the one who offended owes a recompense. But is it not more honourable to give this spontaneously, recognising one's errors, than to endanger the life of the one who has the right to complain? As to the offended, it so happens that sometimes, because they feel gravely injured themselves or that someone dear to them has been insulted, it is not only self-respect that is at stake, but that their heart has been hurt and is suffering. So apart from it being stupid to risk one's life by throwing oneself against a wretch who is capable of infamy, we would ask if when the person dies, does the insult or whatever it was, cease to exist? Is it not true that when blood is spilt it leaves an even deeper impression of a fact which, if false, will fall of its own accord and if true, would be better buried in silence? Then nothing more is left than the quenching of the thirst for vengeance! Ah! Unhappy satisfaction which almost always gives way, even in this life, to pungent remorse! When it is the one that was offended who succumbs, where is the retribution?

When charity finally becomes the general rule of conduct for humanity, all acts and words will be confined to this maxim: Do not do to others that which you would not wish them to do to you. When this happens all causes for dissensions will disappear and with this the duels and wars, which are only duels between nations - FRANÇOIS-XAVIER (Bordeaux, 1861).

15. Because of an offensive word, possibly something slight, a man of the world throws away his life, which came from God, or throws away the life of a fellow creature, which also belongs to God. This man is a hundred times more guilty than the scoundrel, driven by covetousness and sometimes by necessity, who enters into a residence with intent to rob and kills all those who oppose his intentions. In this case, we are usually dealing with a person of little education having an imperfect notion of good and bad; whereas the duellist, as a rule, belongs to the more cultured class. The one kills with brutality, while the other kills with method and refinement, in view of which society forgives him. I would even add that the duellist is infinitely more guilty than the scoundrel who, on giving way to a desire for vengeance, kills in a moment of exasperation. The duellist however does not have the excuse of a frenzy of passion, because between the moment of insult and retribution there has been time for reflection. He acts coldly, with premeditation, studying and calculating everything so that he may be more sure of killing his opponent It is true he also exposes his own life, which is what rehabilitates him in the eyes of the public, as they see only an act of courage and disregard for life. But is there any courage on the part of someone who is sure of himself? The duel, reminiscent of barbarous times in which the right of the strongest was law, will disappear as a result of a better appreciation of what a point of honour really means, and according to the extent that mankind deposits living faith in a future life. -AUGUSTIN (Bordeaux, 1861).

16. REMARKS: As time goes by, duelling is becoming more and more rare. But if from time to time a painful example still occurs, at least the number is greatly diminished compared with days gone by. In those olden days a man could not leave his house without anticipating an encounter, and so always took the necessary precautions. A characteristic sign of the habits of those times and of the people was the habitual presence, either ostensible or hidden, of arms for both attack and defence. The abolition of this custom demonstrates the softening of habits, and it is interesting to follow this graduation from the epoch in which a gentleman only rode out covered with armour plate, to the times when a sword at the waist was more an ornament or blazon than a weapon of aggression. Another indication of the modification of these customs is that formerly these strange combats were held in the middle of a thoroughfare before a mob, whereas in more recent times they were held in secret. At present, death is something which causes emotion. But in other times no one took any notice of it.

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