Tuesday, December 13, 2005

In a room of blindness

On the verge of returning home this weekend for a long overdue extended holiday visit, with stops on the east coast to visit family in Atlanta and various parts of South Carolina, than hopping on to California and my folks before ending up in mine and Wendy Lu’s adopted home of Colorado to complete the whirlwind tour, the news out of San Quentin early this morning has wrecked my coffee and left me wondering why a man like Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams was murdered by the state of California.

Look, I’m not going to try and sugar coat the fact that Williams was tried and convicted for multiple murders and that he was at the forefront of Los Angeles’ historically deadly gang turf wars by co-founding the infamous Crips. Even though MANY questions about
the legitimacy of that trial remain, he was convicted. Granted, the man did not lead a good life before finding his way behind bars and onto death row.

But what has he done since that time? Since being convicted in 1981, Williams has written 9 highly-acclaimed children’s books warning of the dangers of the gang-banger lifestyle, while also working to end violence through the peace protocol and Internet Project for Street Peace, an international peer mentoring program that has saved the lives of countless of thousands of young people by keeping them out of gangs. This convicted murderer has been nominated 5 times for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work, and was even recognized by that beacon of compassion, President George W. Bush, with the 2005 Call to Service Presidential Award for his volunteer work, all done from behind bars.

And that is the key part of the desperate pleas from around the globe in the past few weeks leading up to Williams’ death by lethal injection just past midnight Pacific Standard Time this
morning…behind bars.

No one, not even those with the most bleeding of hearts (as the label conservative pundits are so keen to attack liberals with) was asking that this man be released from prison. If California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the man who more and more each day lives up to his moniker of ‘Governator’, would have
had the decency to spare this life that had been redeemed and saved so many others, Williams could have spent the rest of his days in a cell without the possibility of parole continuing to fight the good fight.

Who does this death deter? How can those who support the death penalty, particularly in this case, not see that hatred begets more hatred and these attempts to curb violence with more violence have failed since man first crawled from the primordial sludge.

With the birthday of a man who taught forgiveness so close at hand, in a nation whose president claims to be a ‘Christian’ supported by a throng of conservative Bible-thumpers, why is this barbaric practice that flies in the very face of the teachings of the
Lamb of God
still carried out with such zeal?

It’s unfortunate that 2000 years later, redemption is not possible in the opinion of some, and the blind lead the blind as an eye for an eye leaves us all looking for hope in the dark.

Merry Christmas, indeed.

do you hear what i hear?


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