"Did you witness the execution; how did you feel; does this bring closure to your brother's death?"
The brother replied that he had seen "bedside" deaths of relatives before but that he had never been witness to the "sucking of life" from a live and healthy person before. He found the event chilling and it made him very sad. Sad to know that two men's lives had ended so tragically - one man, his brother, the other man his murderer. He did not feel closure. His brother remained gone and the murderer was no more.
King asked him, "Have you forgiven the killer?" And the man replied softly but clearly that he had forgiven the shooter that being a Christian required that he forgive even the worst of crimes. He was reconciled to that forgiveness and then he repeated that he just, most of all, felt sad.
I grew up in a small town bumping up against Oklahoma City so when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Administration building was blown up in April 1995, even though not living there at the time, it was a "real event" for me. It wasn't a far off, foreign place that I would never see. It was "real life" for me. The murderer, Timothy McVeigh cruelly, apparently without regret, planned and executed the crime, the act of violence against the government. But he didn't hurt the government; just moms, dads, grandpas, grandmas, babies, toddlers, all innocent of any sleight that McVeigh felt the US Government had inflicted on others. McVeigh was subsequently caught, convicted and put to death. McVeigh put to death - and what did that accomplish - he's dead, but who cares.? Does it minimize the loss of all those loved ones that we mourned individually and as a nation.
My question to myself is - how can I not want revenge for these monstrous killers, why do I still feel strongly about eliminating the death penalty, why do I not believe that the threat of dying does not decrease the incidence of killing? Why do I believe in forgiveness for these madmen? I, too, am a Christian that knows I'm expected to forgive, to turn the other cheek, to wish for life rather than death - but still I wonder at my strong revulsion at killing to avenge killing.
Does the cost of supporting criminals merit our doing away with them rather than spend the money incarcerating them? Do we think any potential killer ever thinks "I better not do this or someone will kill me? I can actually feel my mind confused over this issue.
The subject remains fresh in my mind these past few days with the news coverage of an accused attacker/accused mastermind/accused criminal who is to be tried in New York City for his masterminding the massive Twin Towers event of September 11, 2000. The questions are from the news media - can he receive a fair trial in NYC, can you imagine the expense of security to actually keep this attacker "safe", can this man get a fair trial anywhere in the world, have his "rights" as we Americans expect in court been violated, is it possible that this man could go free after his alleged abominable act? Do I want a fair trial, do I want him to be acquitted, do I want him to be killed - will it change the lives and memories of those beloved citizens that he and his comrades killed? Again, do I believe in the death penalty? How about you?