Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Signs of Spring and More on an Eye for an Eye

Well, I guess I'm only half way back to the blogosphere, but half way is better than the cave so I'm going to be grateful for what there is. I still haven't been able to come up with anything inspiring (or even dull) for One Single Impression. Where is my muse and why won't she speak to me?

Thank you to everyone who commented on the eye for an eye post. I don't think that I could take someone's sight even if I thought it was in the interest of the higher good, but I might try to make a deal with the law to let him THINK it was going to happen and then make sure he did a good deal of prison time... or find a way to let him experience the reality of what he had put me through. When my sister was murdered, I was so grateful that there was no death penalty in my state. It would have made everything worse for me if a sixteen year old boy - or any other human of any age - had been murdered in Carole's name. She would have hated it. That said, I have no trouble (except that waste of human life in any form makes me sad) with him spending the rest of his life in jail. He comes up for parole in 4 years. I have often wondered if the values I think I have would kick in were I to learn that he has used his 20 years (so far) in jail for good - gotten an education, found a moral compass, truly repented. I like to think I would have compassion, but I don't know if I would. At the time he killed her - from everything I saw and heard - he really didn't comprehend the meaning of taking a life. His regret had more to do with having been caught than with what he had done. He seemed a lost soul to me: young and handsome, street smart but not terribly bright. My own psychic wounds - a pretty much total disconnect from my feelings - may have helped me survive the loss and all the other losses. Maybe there was deep rage and I just wasn't feeling it. Mostly I felt sad and tired. His father came to the trial with some regularity with his wife. I think they had a young baby. The DA told me the father was a drug dealer. Even so, I felt compelled at the end of the trial after Walter was convicted , to introduce myself and tell him that I was sorry for his loss also. He wanted it to be a mistake. I know it wasn't. I saw all the evidence. I heard a tape of the confession. At one point he had said that "he just felt like killing someone." Listening to his confession, I know he didn't necessarily intend to kill my sister... or he did and didn't. Once the first blow was struck and she screamed, he stabbed her again and again... more out of fear than malice. But she is just as dead. Back then I sensed in this tragic young man nobody to redeem. I wonder if that's true? I tell myself that I want him in jail for life because I saw no hope of redemption, because my sister is dead for the life of her children, me, my parents while they were alive. Murder of one radiates out to so many, to family of course, but also to witnesses who held her hand at the end, whose lives will never be the same, to friends and also strangers whose lives were suddenly shocked by ugly impersonal brutality that but for luck could have been themselves, to grandchildren who will never meet the wonderful woman who was their mother's mother. But sometimes I wonder. Sixteen is so young. If we had a different kind of prison system, I might hold out more hope for some such transformation for this young man, but our prisons are too crowded and too bent on punishment. I suspect Mr. Anderson's already damaged spirit is only more wounded. But one never knows. Anyway, I wonder about myself and my ability to live the values I think I hold. The line between vengeance and punishment is both subtle and huge. Life, the inner workings of our souls are such a wondrous and complex mystery to me.

But I seem to be rambling. I don't know why I'm writing about this today. The sun is out. The temperatures are out of the single digits (it was 5 degrees yesterday, 16 degrees at the moment). There are a lot of birds fluttering around, patches of earth showing beneath the snow here and there and the tree branches are showing those little knobs that portend blossoms and leaves. The changes are subtle, but they are there. This first photo was taken on February 17th, the second one this morning.

Not a lot of change... but some...

Oh... one last thing... today is my friend Dan's birthday. At the advice of a number of the wordzzle gang, he has started his own blog - Among the Clouds with Danny Boy . Maybe you could drop by and wish him a happy birthday. His day hasn't started out so well and he could use a boost.


Anonymous said...

A much beloved local woman was murdered. A huge outcry arose against the murderer. The woman's husband stepped forward and asked, for the sake of his wife's memory, that everyone set their hate aside.

The husband wants the young man punished, but he doesn't want anyone seeking retribution. I think that takes a special kind of love. He is left alone with three young children to raise, without the woman he adored by his side -- yet he forgives because she would want him to.

Raven said...

I have never understood the idea of vengeance... or I have never craved it. I'm not opposed to punishment. Taking a life is an irrevokable crime, but I like to think I don't have vengeance in my heart. I always feel like killers win when we respond in kind: A true case of "becoming the thing you hate." Killing Walter Anderson would not have brought my sister back, it would just have added to the death toll. If you have never seen the movie DEAD MAN WALKING, I highly recommend it. It is anti death penalty, but in a very balanced (I think) way.

Felisol said...

Dear Raven,
You are wrestling with hard stuff, and also make your readers duck beneath the surface.
"Vengeance is mine,"says the Lord.
Nevertheless he gave his people law by which they should live.
A society is mirroring its value and respect of human life by the its laws.
Without laws we would all be barbaric villains.
"Law is for protection of the people", Kris Kristofferson sings bitterly.

46 years ago my husband's sister probably was murdered. By her husband, who she wanted to leave.
Science was not well developed back then, neither was the respect for women. The sister had occasionally epileptic seizures, which finally was said to be the cause of death.
Not a single family member believe that to be the truth.
They've had to live with this open wound all these years. The parents are now dead, but the siblings still hurt.
And the perpetrator still is free.

The childhood, youth and adult lives of my in-law family are inflicted.
That's who deep one murder goes.
How priceless a life is.

That's also why I wonder why raw crime is sent every day on any TV channel for entertainment.

Yes, Raven, I'd very much appreciate some Reiki healing.
Yours Felisol

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this follow-up and additional thoughts. It's a subject that, regretfully, our society will have more opportunity to consider.

Raven said...

felosil - I'm so sorry about your husband's sister. I was always so grateful that by sheer luck, they caught the boy who killed my sister. I can't imagine what is like for people to go through the rest of their lives with no kind of closure - or worse - in your situation, knowing who killed her but being unable to prove it. I sent reiki late last night. Hope it helped.

deborah.... so true... I don't understand killing or the idea that killing killers somehow makes things better.

Travis Cody said...

I think part of the reason that our thoughts turn to vengeance and retribution is because violence is part of nature. Our fight or flight instinct is triggered.

When we retreat from danger, a predator senses the fear and pursues.

I think that the capacity to be both predator and prey lives in all of us. And so there are times when compassion is difficult to feel and our desire for vengeance takes precedence.