Thursday, September 22, 2011

Executions - My Two Pennies Worth

“Social justice cannot be attained by violence. Violence kills what it intends to create.”
--Pope John Paul II

This week there were five scheduled executions in this country, last week there were two and next week three. That is a total of ten executions in 8 states this month.To be fair both executions last week were granted stays, two this week and one, possibly two, next week as well. Still that leaves a minimum of four executions this month. Granted September is a relatively busy month for executions this year, but the issue at hand to me is not the number of executions being scheduled by this country rather it is the fact that they exist as punishment that troubles me.

If we lifted our eyes long enough to stop complaining about Facebook’s new change we would have found it hard to ignore the noise being generated by one case in particular; that of Troy Davis. Davis, 42 was a black man convicted of killing an officer in 1989 and sentenced to die in Georgia. The details of the case were such that many believed there was sufficient doubt to question culpability or at the very least stay the execution for further review.  

Lost in this heated case was Lawrence Russell Brewer, 44 a known white-supremacist convicted in the dragging death of a black man in Texas in 1998. He was executed hours before Davis. There seemed to be less an uproar about his execution than of Davis’s. Was it a racial issue? Brewer was white, his victim black. Davis was black and his victim white.

Perhaps the case against Brewer was stronger and in that case doubt was nonexistent where in Davis’s case the acquisition of evidence was controversial or downright illegal.

As it pertains to human life I would say none of it matters. Race or culpability, white or black, guilty or not a life is still a life and to take it can never be right.  

I do not favor the criminal here. Nor do I forget the victim. A life taken can never be brought back in the taking of another. All I seek is an end to the cycle of death and hate.

It is said, and it will continue to be said, that I do not know what it is I am talking about. That until I know what it is to suffer such a loss I cannot speak.  While it is true I do not know the depth of sorrow that one goes through in the traumatic untimely loss of a loved one I do know that all life has value. A value that is intrinsic and unconditional. I also know that evil exists and that in order to preserve the good in the world justice must prevail. That the State does the killing only serves to disguise vengeance as justice. It is an ill-fitting dress.

Justice must maintain peace and it must do so without violence. Violence is a destructive force that by its very nature cannot create. If we seek to foster justice and instill lasting peace we must not resort to murder. The taking of a life no matter how just it may seem in light of the crimes the accused has committed cannot be considered justice and must always be considered vengeance. And vengeance carries with it a heavy price on those that participate in it. Some may feel that a murderer “got what he deserved” and some leaders may use a reputation of executioner as a rallying point for elections, but we that keep the good in the world that value life above vengeance must never resort to such base emotions and vile tactics.

Some will say peace is weakness and that our “bleeding hearts” make us blind to the evil in the world and allow us to make excuses where none should be. That we plead for those who willfully and gleefully seek to harm others at the expense of the innocent. And I write here that the opposite is true. Those hearts of ours do bleed. They bleed not for the murderer that has taken life, but for the victim that in repayment takes a life. We seek to preserve that innocence. In the taking of a life all those that participate lose a bit of their humanity by partaking in something inherently evil. The murderer damns himself, but in the execution of that murderer the State damns us all.

Texas is that you?

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