Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bad Pacifist

I had an uncomfortable moment of self awareness yesterday while listening to the Democracy Now live stream from Georgia.
I oppose the death penalty because I oppose killing. But I also understand that killing is human. We kill accidentally. We kill in self defense. I have always known that my desire to be a pacifist would be challenged by someone hurting another person, especially someone I love. And I have always known if I were being attacked I might fight back. I understand that life is complicated and we are complicated.
So yesterday there was a moment when we weren't sure what was happening they announced that another man had just been executed. I had my usual reaction of sadness and frustration and then they announced that it was one of the men who dragged James Byrd behind a truck until he was dead. And just for a minute I didn't care that he was dead. And I became aware that I didn't care. And I knew it was duplicity. And I didn't care.
There are lot of good reasons to oppose the death penalty. We know it's not a deterrent. We know things go wrong in the justice system and people are wrongly convicted. We know that it does psychological damage to the people who have to preform the execution. We kill because it's our job. And there have been people who said that they didn't really get the much promised closure.
I read about a woman who had been in the towers and survived. She had a rough time at first but was doing better. She said the death of Bin Laden had helped. I might not trust that intellectually but I would never argue about the emotion.
He was dead. I didn't care.
I'll never be the pacifist I want to be. I'm too angry. But I will keep trying.

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