This week several people from the church participated in the annual Cities of Light observance shining light on the death penalty and the moral and religious imperative to end capital punishment. The death penalty is certainly a place of darkness in our society. And since this policy is implemented by the government, and “we the people” are the government, this terrible practice implicates all of us.
This past summer when I was in Wisconsin visiting family at their cabin on a lake, we enjoyed catching up on past issues of the New York Times Magazine. There was one issue with an article about the death penalty. The article focussed on the five counties in the US with the worst records relating to the capital punishment. With trepidation, I opened the magazine, and sure enough, out of this whole big country of ours, our county, Pinellas County, was one of the five countries featured in the article. I was afraid of that. So, we here in Pinellas have even more work to do on this.
Will we just turn away from this darkness and ignore it? Is it someone else’s problem? Since we may not have direct involvement with anyone on death row, do we think we can just bury our heads?
A few weeks ago, I was speaking with our 21 year old son, Malcolm, and I told him that when I was young we didn’t have the death penalty. There was a moratorium. It was not being implemented anywhere in the United States. He did not believe me. He actually thought I was lying or mistaken or something. He couldn’t believe that this terrible practice had been abolished in the relatively recent past.
That memory, that knowledge, is our hope. It is our light shining in the darkness. Our society put this practice to an end once and we can do it again. It is possible. We must make sure that the light still shines on the horrors of capital punishment and on the realistic hopes of its abolition once again.
Prayer: In these dark days, may I trust that the light of Christ still shines. May that light shine especially for those on death row and those involved with implementing capital punishment. Amen.
Is there something you would like to write in your Advent journal today about seeing light in dark times? Or maybe you want to note something related to capital punishment.
And don’t forget your donation to The Micah Center to help shine the light for a student in need of support. People who end up on death row tend to be poorly educated. By supporting the students at The Micah Center we may be helping to keep them out of the criminal justice system.