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A Voice in the Wilderness

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. -- William O. Douglas

Monday, December 04, 2006

Over Yonder, Jonathan's Song - Steve Earle

Over Yonder - Jonathan's Song
Steve Earle

The warden said he'd mail my letter
The chaplain's waitin' by the door
Tonight we'll cross the yard together
Then they can't hurt me anymore.

Because, I am going over yonder
Where no ghost can follow me
There's another place beyond here
Where I'll be free - I believe.

You can give my radio to Johnson
Thibodeaux can have my fan
Just send my Bible home to Mama
Call her every now and then.

Because, I am going over yonder
Where no ghost will follow me
There's another place beyond here
Where I'll be free - I believe.

I suppose I got it comin'
I can't ever pay enough
All in my rippin' and a runnin'
I hurt everyone I loved.

The world'll turn around without me
The sun'll come up in the east
Shinin' down on all of them that hate me
I hope my goin' brings 'em peace.

Well, I am going over yonder
Where no ghost will follow me
There's another place beyond here
Where I'll be free - that's what I believe.

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At Sun Dec 31, 12:15:00 PM MST, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At Tue Jan 02, 12:30:00 PM MST, Blogger The Voice said...


No society has a right to take life away from anyone through state-sanctioned execution. Such killing-by-consensus can never be justified. The killer is wrong for killing and killing the killer is just as wrong.

Because of our ability to dominate and rationalize, we Humans have deluded ourselves into believing that we are at the top of the hierarchical ladder of life on earth. Well, as a member of the "higher species" on the planet, I don't put much stock in the anthropocentric perspectives of my species. While we enjoy that self-proclaimed identification, no other species on the planet engages in ritualized killing of one of their own.

I maintain that not one second of life will ever be returned to the victims who died at the hands of the accused when their killers are in turn killed.

I say, 'accused' because, quite a few people remain on death rows across America based purely on circumstantial evidence and have been condemned to death by a popular vote from a jury of peers who have been convinced on the basis of emotional appeals from the prosecutorial side. How disturbing is that? In short, it is a state-sanctioned lynching and justice has not a damned thing to do with it.

Capital punishment in America is reserved almost exclusively for murderers

And what of those in the world who are actually guilty of whatever atrocities that rise to the level of warranting execution?

Killing another Human Being for vengeance has no rational basis other than to mollify the pain, suffering and loss through imposition of death on the accused. What’s more is we sanction our blood lust as a means of offering 'closure' to the victims which is just plain bullshit in my opinion.

I just read and watched the latest video of the Saddam execution - what a disgusting statement on Humanity that was. The man was undoubtedly a tyrant but alive, he remained a thorn in George Bush II's side. He still posed a threat to American security and that is why he is dead. He had the audacity to stand up to the United States and that, quite simply is why he is dead. When his political alignment was in tune with American business interests, we gave Saddam the weapons and power to destroy his enemies and even his own people. As a matter of fact, before he defied the US, his genocidal atrocities were completely ignored.

Historically, it has been as though America believed the rest of the world was blind to her involvement in the suffering of the Iraqi people when we not only looked the other way but supported the vainglorious dictator as he did ordered hundreds of thousands of killings. All this took place during Presidents Reagan's and Bush 1's Administrations. This is precisely why Saddam's death has done nothing for America's standing in the pan-Arab world.

At the beginning of America's campaign to oust Saddam, contrary to then secretary of state, Donald Rumsfeld's early prediction that the Iraqis would 'embrace' us as liberators, the reality is they hate us.

Here's a timely example; in the moments leading up to Saddam's hanging, his executioners invoked cleric Moktada al Sadr's father's name. Aside from raising the question whether this execution was carrried out by the Iraqi state or by al Sadr's militants themselves, the event reminded everyone present of al Sadr's father who was one of the religious Shiite clerics that Saddam had killed during his reign - while still in good standing with the US.

The younger, more brutal al Sadr is identified as the behind-the-scenes firebrand responsible for the past year's exponential rise in sectarian bombings and violence that now holds Iraq in the grips Iraq of a full-blown civil war. There is no doubt he is emerging as the real power to be reckoned with in Iraq. I'm betting junior isn't willing to overlook or forget who gave power to the man who killed his father.

Now, Saddam - this enemy of the Shiite controlled Iraqi state - was put to death by the people for the atrocities committed at his command. Meanwhile, America's current president, George Bush II (the poster child of pro-execution) - like Pontius Pilate - washed his hands of it by 'assenting' to the will of the Iraqi people when in fact he remains the agent provocateur for Saddam's hanging.

I am no fan of Saddam, but let's call his execution what it really is - his final silencing and 'closure' not only for his victims families and more pointedly, as a threat to the US. There is only one problem here; thousands of ruthless killers - of the Saddam Hussein variety - have been spawned directly because of the violence and selfish agenda carried out by the American business interests that put Saddam in power in the first place only to take him out him out when he no longer served their purposes. They won and the world suffers once again. When will we learn?

In all candor, when we take the life of another for vengeance and call it justice, we damage ourselves and the rest of Humanity collectively. Such decisions to terminate the life of an offender are based upon the infectious nature of hate.

Call me strange but I do not agree with executions because killing of any Human Being - no matter how heinous the crime(s) committed diminishes all of Humanity. Violence is not an answer. It is merely the selfish rationalization for vengeance - a chance to be what the agressor is - a chance to kill with justification. So my question is; why become killers like those whose actions we condemn?

Compassionate treatment of someone who does not deserve it is the mark of Humanity. Violence is too easy - but we seldom hold the peaceful in high esteem. No, we elect, we follow and we choose people who offer simple solutions - like violence, a tonic for the masses as a response to fear and insecurity. It is too bad we can't elect people who say what they mean - and mean what they say.

How odd that we find videotaped beheadings vulgar and repulsive and yet we take comfort in watching the gruesome specter of Saddam's neck being snapped by the weight of his own body.

A person that comes to mind for me when I think of Capital punishment – one who was entirely innocent and who did not deserve to die was Jesus of Nazareth. He died at the hands of a few insecure people who were able to sway public opinion with their piety. Don’t you consider it ironic how, at least in the Christian perspective, a fellow Human Being - and savior of the world to his followers - was executed? Ironic indeed when you see his preaching was based on peace and love - that he not only would die such a violent death - but moreover even more unbelievably, that future generations of his followers would pervert his own suffering and death as reason to kill those who do not share their beliefs in G-d!

Jesus' pharisaical following - ones of the same varieties which he loathed and chided during his short life - would invoke both his name and the name of their Creator in order to justify the killing of one of G-d’s children – to justify killing of their own brethren - incredible. What a testament to their savior, to their G-d, to the peace and love that Jesus called for. Review of history reveals just how twisted Jesus’ followers have become; they kill in his name.

Whats worse is that they can also look the other way when fellow Humans perish around them.

Don't believe me? Consider this reality, somewhere in the world, right now, a child is starving to death but where do you see it in the popular media that an emaciated, fly-ridden child garners any attention?

Rest assured, tonight, as we go to sleep, hundreds of thousands of children have breathed their last - they will not awaken tomorrow morning. Where is the Fox News Network coverage? Where are any of the cameras? Do we see CNN's News Anchor Paula Zahn or CBS's Katie Couric with their sexy, brilliantly toothy smiles giving it the attention it deserves.

While their children go to sleep with full bellies in warm beds, children who were not fortunate enough to have been issued from their wombs endure the ache of hunger as their final experience of life. Who is covering the dying children's final thoughts as their life ebbs away?

…and the following morning? The same number of innocents will perish from starvation as well – for no other reason than they have no voice. By circumstance, they are poor and for that reason, they will be subject to starvation, exploitation, torture and death. Their shrunken bodies will not be satiated by execution of their tyrannous overlords.

Nevertheless, we popularize state-sanctioned execution and call it, 'justice'. We cannot afford such a self-indulgent form of justice - not when all that money could be better spent feeding the innocent and clothing the poor.

Nothing ever comes from violence but more violence. It is a vicious circle that I pray will close in on itself when the world finally realizes that only love can melt even the fieriest of rages.

We hate at our own peril. Perhaps this is the price of self-importance. We remain the only retributive species on the planet and if it goes unchecked, it will be our downfall.

Perhaps your 'Amen' reflects an agreement with my world view and then again, perhaps not. I do thank you either way because you have given me a chance to reflect on your comment and to elaborate on something that is constantly on my mind - peace.

Thank you for your post and be safe, whoever you are and wherever you may be.


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