by James Jones
My two-year-old daughter is the absolute light of my life.
She is a bright, sweet child, says please and thank you like
a well-mannered adult should. When I scold her for something
she'll say "Sorry, Daddy" with a sad frown on her little face
that melts my heart. She is always quick to give hugs and
"I love you"s to Mommy, Daddy, and her two big brothers, and
she worries that her stuffed puppy gets covered up at night
when she goes to bed.
Sesame Street is her favorite show. She loves to sing along
with Elmo, especially the "Sing" song. (Every parent with
a television knows that one by heart) She doesn't get all
the words right but she tries hard, with an angelic little
voice, then she'll turn to me and say "Now you try it" which
is my cue to sing along with her. She is the picture of innocence.
This week she became a killer.
It's difficult to condemn the sentence that was carried out
on Monday against Timothy McVeigh in light of the violent
nature of the crime, and the nature of his victims. I must
admit I won't shed a single tear for him, in fact I admit
to feeling a certain visceral satisfaction. Revenge is a powerful
emotion, and he inspired little pity. I think of the children
he killed and his cold "collateral damage" remark and my heart
But I also think of the children that must live in a country
that gives them such a confused message on the value of human
life. He certainly gave us good reason to hate him and to
want revenge. I'm concerned with the message this sends to
our children. We are saying to them in effect, "Killing a
human being is wrong, unless you have sufficient reason to
hate them, and then it is the right thing to do."
This wouldn't be too terrible if so many didn't hate so much,
and feel perfectly justified in their hatred. I've heard people
liken execution to destroying a rabid animal, or exterminating
vermin. Do rabid animals have souls? Do we really want to
classify any human being as vermin? Who decides what defines
human vermin, and what prevents that definition from being
stretched? This can only make us all less safe.
When the United States put him to death today, it was done
in the name of all her citizens - your name, my name, and
my two-year-old daughter's name. It is true that her share
of the guilt is small, one part in some 280 million, yet I
can't help but feel that her soul has been tainted.
No more executions. Not in my name, and certainly not in
her name. I want my sweet little girl to remain innocent.
That's not too much to ask.