June 25NextPrevious   

“No one beyond redemption”–Daily Metta

“No human being is so bad as to be beyond redemption, no human being is so perfect as to warrant his destroying him whom he wrongly considers to be wholly evil.”

-–Gandhi (Young India, March 26, 1931)

In the days following September 11, 2001, Rais Bhuiyan, a Bangladeshi citizen studying in the United States, working at a convenience store in Texas, was shot in the head with a double-barrel shotgun by Mark Stroman. Bhuiyan, who is Muslim by faith, went on 10 years later to campaign against the death penalty that had been meted to his would-be murderer. He felt strongly that Stroman had acted out of ignorance, and the death penalty would not solve the problem. Before Stroman was killed by the state of Texas, he called Bhuiyan “his brother” and told him that he loved him. They both experienced the transformational power of forgiveness. If Stroman had not been executed, he might be a powerful voice today in helping people get out of hate groups just as Bhuiyan now speaks about forgiveness and the political necessity of interfaith dialogue. It is possible.

At the time of writing this Daily Metta, Amnesty International reports that nearly two-thirds of the countries of the world have abolished the death penalty, while the so-called democratic United States continues to uphold its right to execute its citizens.

The countries who have advanced beyond deadly retribution have understood that an execution of one person affects more than the person being killed: jurors, prison wardens who pull the levers, guards who forcefully remove prisoners from their families as they are saying their last goodbyes, medical officers who insert the needles, all experience the trauma of the act. One warden who oversaw 89 executions once said, “You don’t ever get used to it.” Cases of alcoholism, nightmares, and even suicide due to what psychologist Rachel MacNair refers to as “Perpetration Induced Traumatic Stress,” or PITS, surface more and more as a greater number of people question the method of returning violence for violence–that is, if they even have the person who committed the act in the first place.

Our connection is as spiritual as it is visceral: we are not made to harm or to kill one another, we are made to nurture and to heal. Is it not time that our practices in criminal justice catch up with our emerging awareness of who we are? Is it not time we instituted a powerful, and more effective, more humane alternative? Would it not make us a more evolved society? A world more aware of its dignity and humanity?


Experiment in Nonviolence

Do something today to challenge the legitimacy of the death penalty.

The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 info@mettacenter.org