In thinking back to those compassionate forgiving members of the congregation of Emmanuel A.M.E.... .
In the wake of today's breaking news -- another horrendous shooting -- this time four marines, and the shooter with some others suffering gunshot injuries; again.
I'm thinking of the unbelievably generous
forgiving of the heartless murderer whose horrific act a month ago left us all in awe.
I'm struck by something that may be obvious only to me.
I'm sure that
everyone in the nation was grateful to them for setting the tone that
would quell any thought of a violent reaction. We must not ever forget that the assassin's goal was to start a race war by his actions.
Those loving Christians did not ask the
death penalty. Instead they offered him their forgiveness.
Fractious Southerners, black and white, spoke of it passionately throughout the South in the days that followed --
and in their legislature during the debate around the removal of the
Battle Flag of the Confederacy.
Does it not follow that this provides
the answer for the divisive questions around the debate over the possible elimination of the death penalty? I believe the Supreme Court will tackle that question in the upcoming term.
Our national response to heinous acts of murder is to come at it from
the position of an eye for an eye; at least until now.
I'm certain that were I to have to
face one who took the life of one of my loved ones, in the heat of passion I, too, might want revenge --
and aren't we lucky that I don't have the responsibility of making that decision. Not any of us should, personally, have that responsibility.
But how about our ability to respond as a nation to such crimes in the
same humility and compassion as those loving churchgoers? Would not
imprisonment for life without the possibility of ever being released be
adequate? When will we learn that we only diminish ourselves and our
humanity when we continue to kill people to teach that it's wrong to
I've always had the nagging feeling that, Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber, was granted a state-sanctioned suicide, and went to his execution still defiant, steely-eyed, and without remorse.
I suppose it makes as much sense as fighting wars to
defend democracy with a segregated armed forces.