My greatest accomplishment on this lazy Sunday was catching up on the week of newspapers I fell behind reading. It wasn't difficult, because I didn't read them very closely. I'm less and less interested in the kind of information the paper provides, and I've never been interested in the fluff that takes up most of the space. That leaves sports, and there's not much to compete with week-old baseball scores for uselessness.
I read a lot of words about this guy my government is planning to kill tomorrow. I have no sympathy for him. I don't believe in capital punishment, but thinking about the 168 people he murdered, and the hundreds he injured, and the thousands of survivors whose lives he changed forever leaves little room in my heart for the life of a self-righteous hate-monger who holds life in so little regard himself.
Still, I wish we weren't killing him. The victims' families may believe his death will give them closure, or peace, but his crime was against all of society, not just them. One man's life means nothing against the 168 he took, but it means everything about what kind of society we are. If we value life, we don't take it, and then call it punishment when we really mean revenge.
Too many abuses are perpetrated in the name of justice, but the only irrevocable error is putting the wrong person to death. That doesn't mean I think an innocent man will be executed tomorrow, but I don't believe in exceptions. A penalty that's wrong for some, because the chance of error is both possible and irreversible, is wrong for all.
Even if we don't value this life, we must value Life, in principle. We don't show it by becoming agents of death. To do so diminishes us, the living, as well as the memory of those who have died innocent.