When Timothy McVeigh, the Okalahoma bomber, received the death penalty as punishment and as the news reverberated through both local and international media I remember feeling frightened and physically ill. I was a high school student, I hadn’t followed the story particularly closely but I remember when news of his “sentence” broke. People were pleased. People were excited. People shared the news with gleeful tones in their voices. Drive-time radio hosts who usually only talked about celebrity gossip and fashion trends shared the news.
I was frightened. I was scared of how old fashioned this all sounded, how final it was going to be and how it could never be undone.
I am most definitely not condoning what McVeigh did and perhaps I would feel differently if one of the 168 killed that day was a friend or family member.
On the day McVeigh “received” his punishment the world counted down… those normally pop filled radio stations and cheerful drive-time radio hosts counted down almost on the hour, every hour. On our way to school that day the countdown to this man’s death was constant, Mum turned off the radio saying that the almost gleeful approach was sickening. She was right.
Personally I’ve always felt that perhaps death is an easy option for the “guilty” party, they don’t have to suffer the long term consequences and guilt of their actions. We put pets “down” because we love them and don’t want them to suffer and in some parts of the world we put “down” criminals so they don’t have to suffer guilt, suffer hate and also a message is sent out to others. The people who suffer are those left behind; family and friends who possibly had no idea and no involvement. I’d feel better knowing that a hideous criminal was sitting in an uncomfortable jail cell, with a tiny window, no privacy simply watching time pass slowly and painfully by.
The death penalty is one of those things I have nightmares about, perhaps I’ve seen too many movie, but all I can ever think is… what if they’re wrong? Death can’t be undid. What if there is more to the sotry I’ve seen too many cops shows, where the lines “were there any witnesses?” and “can anyone corroborate this story?” are used, much like the story of The Hurricane (like the Bob Dylan song).
It’s a little different in the case of the Bali Nine, they didn’t take innocent lives they just made a stupid choice, in spite of being aware of the consequences. We’ve all made silly choices, we’ve all looked back at one stage or another and thought… “that wasn’t the right call to make” but imagine paying the ultimate cost. I’m not trying to trivialise drug smuggling, it is a serious crime but this is 2015, not 1912… not 1880 or any other bygone era where women were property and punishment by death was common, for me though what makes it worse is the media.
It’s done now. They’re gone now and their families are publicly grieving. All that’s left is media outlets clambering over one another in an attempting to whip people into a frenzy, spark debate and drive website traffic.
Where was everyone before? Where will everyone be in a week? Remember these people are now dead. Shot by a firing squad.
It’s May now and the weather is starting to get a little colder and it’s dark when I leave work. This month I’ve set the challenge of expressing gratitude daily… I’m hoping the daily task will help shift my thinking and keep me motivated as winter moves in. I’m working hard to keep my motivation up and am trying yet again to eat well and exercise.
I’m employing the tactic of using a planner and scheduling things to ensure they get done and that life doesn’t get a way on me.
This month I’m also going to try and push the #NobodyIsAlone #MentalHealthBlogChallenge harder as I feel really passionately about this. After attending TEDx Auckland yesterday I’m fired up … I want to do things, make a difference and make an impact.
Watch this space