Testing my beliefs

I am 100% against the death penalty. Should someone kill my kids, in theory I would want to believe in forgiveness, but in practice I know that I would probably change my tune. Every time there is a violent murder in the news, I remember my friend, Yngve who was murdered on MIT campus in 1992. This video, by the way, is a one-sided profile of the perpetrators was and by no means is my endorsement for his early release. I think all three of the boys who did this should still be behind bars. But death row? I don't think so.

Tonight someone is being put to death in VA for a string of sniper homicides as well as leading a youth into the plan with him. You can read the NY Times Article here and more information is available on The Washington Post, including a map, click here.

I remember this killing rampage. I remember visiting my family in New York State, hundreds of miles away from the DC area where they took place, waking up from a bad dream believing foolishly that they could get me!

Maybe I had these dreams because several of the shootings were within 10 minutes drive (one within 10 minutes walk!) of where we had lived. When C was born we lived off of Connecticut Avenue in Kensington, MD. That was about 4 years before this shooting spree. So when the maps were shown on CNN I was horrified. "WE BOUGHT GAS THERE! AT THAT STATION!" I screamed to my husband.

I remember the fear I felt. I remember the relief when the perpetrators were caught. I'm grateful they didn't continue on the rampage.

But I still want to believe in forgiveness. Even if only because I want to be a better person. I want to explain the craziness away. I still don't believe in the death penalty as a deterrent. I don't believe that we can decide justly what is something that justifies the death penalty and what doesn't. To me it seems arbitrary when states themselves can decide what justifies it. Statistically it is often racist too.

But remembering how I laid in my childhood bed feeling the same fears I felt as a child after waking from nightmares, I can certainly empathize with both the families of the direct victims and the rest of us living in a society where fear of being shot while filling gas isn't just an irrational thought but a concern based on historical fact.

I remember the Rautein's pain and Mrs. Raustein's tears. I remember her bond with my mother, two women who had never before met, but both had lost their first-born sons. I applaud the victim's family for being able to show mercy by signing the petition in the above-mentioned video. I just don't have any plans to sign it myself. I guess I still have work to do on forgiveness....


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