Saturday, December 30, 2006

Capital Punishment

The hanging of Saddam Hussein this weekend disturbed me, and I had to contemplate why I felt the way I did. I certainly didn't rejoice, and while I was happy about his capture and was interested in the outcome of his trial, I took no pleasure at all from his death. To say I was appalled to learn the extent of his crimes would be an understatement, and my heart truly goes out to those who suffered because of him. I do understand why so many people wanted him dead.

I usually try to avoid discussing big issues like politics and religion with K, as we often disagree and these disagreements tend to leave me feeling disillusioned and unhappy with him, but I gathered my courage and asked how he felt about the hanging of Saddam. He said it made him sad, not because he has any fondness for the man, and not because he didn't deserve to be punished, but because it is a sad end to a life and he is against capital punishment in general. I asked him if he thought he might feel differently if someone tortured and killed one of our children (God forbid, I can imagine it all too well) and he didn't think so, because the death of the killer wouldn't really change anything for us. I reflected on that for a while, and I think I agree. It wouldn't bring our child back, and no matter how angry or hurt (understatements, both) we were, I don't believe we have the right to determine who should live or die. I think if God took the killer's life, I might feel some measure of relief or justice, but I could live with the fact that the killer is destined to many years, if not life, in prison. I know I would find his release difficult, though.

That said, I do think I could kill someone without a second thought if my family or I were in imminent danger, but I can't even imagine how I would feel about it afterward. On the other hand, if I only wounded the attacker enough to escape and call the police, I think I would worry for the rest of my life about him coming after me and my family as soon as he was able.

As for the people who carry out the executions allowed by law, how do they feel at the end of the day? Will they have to answer to God for the lives they ended, even if it was condoned by judges? It's not a risk I would take.


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