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Justice and suspended judgement

To suspend judgement for the sake of justice may sound paradoxical, but it's the only way to seek the truth

The more I read and follow what everyone has to say about the horrific murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, starting with the President, the Archbishop, the PM and the Leader of the Opposition, down to everyone else who quickly volunteer their opinion everywhere, the less I am inclined to say anything.

I opt to be silent not because I refuse to comment, but because given the circumstances, it is becoming increasingly evident that whatever one says is basically going to lead to nowhere substantial.

If the aim is to get to the bottom of this horrific crime and to secure justice, then the less said, the better. While I find myself speechless, I am increasingly fearful of what is being said. Distortions and passions seem to abound, and between adulators and detractors, the voice of opinion is being reduced to noise and cacophony.

If the aim is to get to the bottom of this horrific crime and to secure justice, then the less said, the better.

Mindful of the distractions of emotion and opinion, medieval scholars and theologians adopted a method of thinking which they borrowed from the Ancient Greeks.

The Greeks called it epoché — which means suspension. This was a method of that would bracket judgement, where in order to hone in on a specific focus, every form of influence which is more likely to distract than help gain focus, is temporarily suspended.

The modern philosopher Edmund Husserl used the method epoché to discuss and understand core issues that we usually take on experience. He recommends that matters of opinion, inclination and experience are put in parenthesis, until we could focus on the matter at hand without such variants. In other words, he would reduce the analysis to a sharp minimum.

The point of this approach is to then go back to the experiences and all the other variants with a fresh look. The aim is to enhance one’s understanding of what was originally approached on experience and opinion. After this process of reduction and bracketing, these elements will take on a new value and, if still deemed to hold relevance, they will go on to enhance one’s approach to the truth of the matter.

In the aftermath of Mrs Caruana Galizia’s murder, an array of judgemental and emotional pronouncements was to be expected, given the size of Malta’s population and more so how suddenly Malta found itself under the international spotlight.

Yet more than ever, focusing on getting to the bottom of this heinous murder and ascertaining what actually happened is of the essence. If we really mean it when we say that we seek the truth and want to see justice served, at this stage we might want to think about suspending the very judgement by which we feel that we have to respond to such a disturbing event.

To suspend judgement for the sake of justice may sound paradoxical, but it's the only way to seek the truth.

Many have written very clear and well-argued articles on this tragic event. However, there is also a lot of nonsense being bandied about. The cacophony is becoming dangerously loud. My fear is that this becomes yet another tribal game which will simply derail any hope of getting to the bottom of this murder.

My fear is that this becomes yet another tribal game which will simply derail any hope of getting to the bottom of this murder.

We are all entitled to air our opinions. But one cannot simply assume that an opinion is an absolute fact. There could be very elaborate circumstantial threads woven into an argument, and yet the argument would have been prejudiced from the start. The investigation of this heinous murder has just started and until that is completed, no one could, with any clarity, understand what are the ramifications of this murder.

Yet again and again, some seem to think that such matters could be settled in public opinion, in social media, or through the chattering habits which have become more intensely emotional.

Mrs Caruana Galizia wrote a lot. Her work touched many spheres. She did not just write about straight-forward localised politics. Like everyone in her profession, she had adulators and detractors in equal measure. Yet that her murder is presumed to be linked to what she wrote does not simply give carte blanche to everyone—adulators and detractors alike—to have a claim to the truth according to how they see it from their respective perspective.

On looking and speaking about this atrocity, there needs to be a modicum of rationality which seeks to suspend anything that is likely to come in the way of justice. Judgement and justice might look similar, but they are often diametrically opposed to each other.

Unless we understand this distinction, we stand a good chance of fuelling more tribal hatred and, as in the case of Karen Grech and Raymond Caruana, no one is caught and no justice will ever be served. 

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