On the Death Penalty, or Love, or Both
I’m not someone who has a lot of unshakeable beliefs. There are plenty of things I believe in; it’s just that my mind changes. I don’t know if it’s receptivity, sympathy – or just indecision.
So I understand some arguments in favor the death penalty. But the older I get, the more sure I am that it’s wrong.
Reading through this collection of final statements, sorted out by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in a very chillingly matter-of-fact sort of way, makes me even more sure. And when I wondered what in particular was getting to me, I realized it was that they’re most all people talking about loving other people.
People like to say that criminals are monsters. But they’re not two-dimensional fairytale monsters. And that’s why they’re scary. They’re not terribly different than “us.”
In “The Gift of Fear,” Gavin de Becker (talking about how to understand the world better in order to keep yourself safe) says, “Even in a gathering of aberrant murderers there is something of you and me…. When we accept that violence is committed by people who look and act like people, we silence the voice of denial…. We must accept that these acts are done by people included in the ‘we’ of humanity, not by interlopers who somehow sneaked in.”
This is a dismal subject for the fresh new Christmas season, isn’t it? In a way. But in another way, it isn’t.
Because out of this really extreme and awful stuff, you see something. You see that the only thing that matters in living – even for people you think have far less capacity for good than you – is the love you have for the people in your life.
So if there’s something happy in this, that’s what it is. That the sooner you realize that and pay attention to it, the more you have.
Sorry if this was preachy. Or bizarre. Or both. It sounds like I was maudlin or something, doesn’t it? I’m not, I promise, but it was just in my head.