As these words hit the screen I became angry.
“If one of our fellow citizens can be executed with so much doubt surrounding his guilt, then the death penalty system in our country is unjust and outdated.”
They refer to Troy Davis who was executed yesterday and were spoken by former President Jimmy Carter, a man I admire much and someone who I know is trying to sway death penalty proponents to change their mind about the death penalty.
And as much as I respect Jimmy Carter, I have to disagree with him today, even if just slightly.
This is not about doubt.
Regardless of whether Troy Davis is guilty or innocent, the punishment for a crime of any magnitude can never be death. We do not have the right to take the life of another human being.
Even if they have done so themselves. Barbarism that is met with more hatred and vengeance does nothing to bring peace. Something that I think the family of Officer Mark MacPhail doesn’t quite understand but may eventually in the coming weeks. Look at a few quotes and you’ll start to see the regret seeping in at the taking of another human life:
“I’m kind of numb. I can’t believe that it’s really happened,” MacPhail’s mother, Anneliese MacPhail, said in a telephone interview from her home in Columbus, Ga. “All the feelings of relief and peace I’ve been waiting for all these years, they will come later. I certainly do want some peace.”
I hate to tell her, but I doubt that those feelings of peace will come. In fact, she may have shooed them away for some time. In the instant that Troy Davis was dead, no immediate peace came to Officer MacPhail’s own mother.
That should tell us something.
Officer MacPhail’s widow, Joan MacPhail-Harris, said it was “a time for healing for all families.”
“I will grieve for the Davis family because now they’re going to understand our pain and our hurt,” she said in a telephone interview from Jackson. “My prayers go out to them. I have been praying for them all these years. And I pray there will be some peace along the way for them.”
Immediately her thoughts went to healing, not for herself, because this will not bring her healing, instead it only brings pain to the family of another person. Another who is now dead because the state decided that vengeance is the only acceptable punishment and that taking the life of another is justified.
Mrs. MacPhail inherently knows that this is not a healing. It is only revenge. Killing Troy hasn’t brought her husband back and through prayer she may find peace in realizing that God is the only one who can make everything right again.
And God already has.
Today, may the spirit of peace and forgiveness be given to us, through the intercession of both Troy Davis and Mark MacPhail, who I undoubtedly know are embracing today in the peace of God’s forgiveness.