Violence in a neighbourhood makes victims and other residents uneasy or anxious about going out, especially at night. A feeling of safety is a critical factor in a community’s quality of life. Knowing that a mugger, who is prepared to do harm, is still at large, creates community concern.
In the UK, less than 1 in 12 of reported cases of rape end in a conviction. The vast majority of women victims who have been raped have had to cope with the psychological torture of being raped plus the ongoing stress of wondering if the man who abused them is still walking the streets.
The relatives of victims of unsolved murder want perpetrators brought to justice. They never forget and never stop wanting to know who killed their loved one. Who, how and why.
In relation to unsolved crime in general, even the slightest hope for answers and any chance for justice brings out a flood of emotion. Victims feel neglected and angry about any lack of information and contact they are given from detectives regarding progress in an unsolved case.
We need to put a face on the offender who has done us harm, to know more about the kind of person who would steal from us, spread malicious gossip about us, or do injury to our friend or family member. Although many commentators feel the police could do more to keep in contact with victims, there will always be a limit of time available for liaison of this kind. Given the number of unsolved crimes, it seems victims don’t always get justice in this world.
However what about in any next life? Will all people who have behaved badly be eventually found out? According to the testimony of one visionary writer, Emanuel Swedenborg, the answer is a definite yes.
Swedenborg says that each of us has a “book of life” which is not written on paper but is written on our heart: everything one has thought and done can be reproduced from the memory as if it were read in a book. He reports on what he has seen in his inner vision of what he calls the spiritual world into which he says we all become fully conscious after our bodily death. He maintains that some people are skilful in covering up their wrongdoing and what they are really like. These individuals deny crimes and disgraceful things they have done so that often even their victims do not know their identity. So in the next life in case other spirit people believe them innocent, all things about them are uncovered and reviewed from their memory. This occurs in sequence relating to their earliest age to the end of their life on earth.
Swedenborg reports on corrupt individuals who exploited innocent victims by taking bribes and making a profit out of judicial decisions. Their craftiness and theft were recounted one after another – many of them things hardly anyone else had known about. Sometimes these demonstrations lasted for some hours.
He mentions for example one person who had thought nothing of disparaging others. Swedenborg heard the actual malicious words this individual had said, who the defamed victims were and who they were addressed to.
He also witnessed a particular person who had robbed a relative of his inheritance by some crafty device. This same person, had secretly killed a neighbour by poison. Then everything was unveiled — how he had talked with him as a friend and offered him a drink what he had planned beforehand and what happened afterwards.
In short, people are shown clearly for what they are, all the details of their life being brought out from their memory and proven. There is no room left for denial since all the attendant circumstances are visible at once.
Immediately after death the spirit person is in what Swedenborg calls an external state. Those who have recently died can be recognised by other spirits who knew them when they were alive. But this external state is temporary. Swedenborg saw people in this state whom he had known and he recognised them, but when he saw the same people when later with their true nature revealed, it was a different story. Apparently, the change of outward appearance is gradual.
Swedenborg says he saw individuals who had been charming in appearance during their life but after death when their inner character was revealed became quite repulsive: this was so as their inner quality began to be seen in the light of justice. He speaks of other people, who had known in the world, who had not been particularly attractive but because of their good inner nature began to appear beautifully formed.
To sum up Swedenborg’s position. People in the next life are not allowed to feign feelings which do not really belong to them. They are not allowed to put on a face contrary to their desires. The ones who were involved in altruistic feelings had beautiful faces, while the ones who are involved in selfish feelings had misshapen faces. Everyone there eventually becomes into a state in which he or she speaks the way they think and shows in their expression and gesture what their intentions are.
It seems that the truth will out in the end.
” There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” (Luke 12:2)
Swedenborg insists no one is punished for what they had done in the world however terrible: aversive correction does occur but only to deter further evil actions from being committed after death. The reason given is that anyone may have developed genuine remorse, despite a previous life of serious misdemeanor.
Victims of crime should be pleased to hear confirmation of such a thing as divine judgment even if this only happens after a lifetime. However, those wanting revenge on their abusers may be disappointed to learn that this form of justice is based on the love of a divine forgiving heart.
Copyright 2013 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems