21 March 2015

403: The Death Penalty and Forgiveness

The other day I was sitting around with a few people and one person was reading/mentioning an article about a state that was considering bringing back the firing squad for an option in acting out the death penalty. This spurred an interesting discussion. One person mentioned that in such a situation of a firing squad, one person was always handed a gun that was a blank, yet out of all the shooters, no one knew which was had the blank and which one had the loaded gun. In this, it was so that the shooters did not feel guilty or have to face that they may have been the one to in fact shot the bullet that killed another human being.

I thought this was absolutely fascinating – that it’s the concern for the shooters and their potential guilt and regret for participating in a firing squad, that one of the guns would be shooting a blank. Does this not in fact reveal how the very act of the death penalty, and the firing squad specifically, is not an act that is in any way righteous or justifiable? I mean, if one participate in an act that requires a preventative measure so that that one may be able to live with themselves… then perhaps the act is not valid or 'right' in the first place.

I don’t agree with the death penalty and here’s why... It’s a statement that what someone does wrong in their life, as extreme or innocent it is, cannot be forgiven and cannot possibly change themselves. Instead they are punished to death… they must be removed because what they've done is so horribly wrong that we cannot have them existing in this life anymore. If someone kills another person, then we say an 'eye for an eye' - and yes, then the world is blind. We do to another what we are saying they did was wrong in the first place. "You killed someone? Your are SO WRONG and SO BAD... that is unacceptable, you cannot kill people. So... we will KILL YOU!" huh?

I just don’t agree with that. And while discussing this with another, I made this comment. And she disagreed with me… she said how all pedophiles should be locked away and that she wanted nothing to do with those types of people.

The problem with this is that we just see the act of pedophilia, or murder, or rape, or robbery. While I in no way condone any of these acts… we are missing the whole story when we simply judge and define someone according to this final stage as the play out of a long accumulated consequence that has it’s origin in this reality… within this humanity. 

To lock someone away and throw away the key, or to sentence someone to death is an attempt to deal with a problem that we recognize exists, yet we don’t have an actual solution for, is not correcting any problem. Instead we ‘throw it away’ – we in a way suppress it, we ignore it, we don’t want to face it and so we get rid of the glaring problem that exists within the minds of humans that cause them to act in ways that is not best for all.

Is someone born wanting to rape someone else? Is someone born wanting to murder someone? Is someone born sexually attracted to children? No – people are the products of their environment, from the small inter-personal relationships of family, to the greater societal structures… and what we are currently producing from the environment we have created on earth are people who harm one another, who want to rape and abuse and kill each other.

Locking them up or putting them to death does not solve anything, as it’s an attempt to cure the symptoms.. it is not looking at the origin, the cause, the actual problem. We cannot just look away or put something out of our sight and think it will just go away. We will have to, as a whole, and individually, take a real look at how we currently exist, and WHY it has manifested the way it has.

A final point about this, which I mentioned quickly at the beginning is the point of forgiveness. We are not willing to forgive the pedophiles, the murderers, the rapists as understanding WHY they/it exists, then we are in fact thinking and believing that we, ourselves, cannot be forgiven or understood, and that human nature cannot change. Perhaps this is the starting point…. Realizing that human nature is a condition programmed through the environment in which the human is exposed to and that through different conditions, human nature CAN change. And that ability to change is not selective for some people.. it’s a potential within all. And until we see it in ourselves, we cannot see it in each other. So back to ourselves… as the source, cause and origin of what we have here as Life on Earth and as the only point responsible to and for change. When we forgive ourselves for what we have done, who we have been, and GIVE ourselves the ability to change… we start seeing this potential in others. 

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