Some “Violence” Thoughts on an Easter Sunday

No violence here.

‘Tis a beautiful Easter Sunday here in SoCal. There is baseball on the boob-tube; Di is in her sunroom speaking with one of her sisters on the phone (sister is in England); we should be in NorCal with friends but Di lost a tooth early Friday morning and we had to cancel; Mist and Smoke are sleeping on the sofa beside me and I’ve had my second cup of coffee — wondering if I should fix another pot or just a K-cup — and trying to decide what to have for brunch.

I’ve read both papers; checked my email and trolled Facebook — and found some things that spawned a conscious thought or two — yeah, I know dangerous.

State-Sanctioned Violence

There were the usual Easter “He is risen” posts and cartoons and one that was a bit different: Judas, with his 30 pieces of silver saying something to the effect that without him today would be nothing but an ordinary Sunday.

This got me to thinking about what the world would be like without Easter. No Christianity? Probably, . . . without the miracle of the Resurrection Jesus becomes just another itinerant preacher wandering the Roman-occupied Middle East. Nothing to distinguish him from others unnoticed and unremarked upon and lost to human memory.

Jesus was a victim of state-sponsored political murder. Local authorities feared his influence, and the lessening of theirs, and convinced the local Roman government to kill him in the interests keeping the peace.

Death Penalty

Hmmm . . . state-sponsored murder. What would life be like if we had never had a death penalty for the commission of crimes — political or otherwise? Not “no punishment” — just no killing of criminals, and those falsely accused and convicted, by the state.

Think about it.

No crucifixion of Jesus.

Nor the drawing and quartering of William Wallace.

No beheading of Olympe de Gouges.

Nor the hanging of Eva Dugan.

No electrocution of William Kemmler.

Nor the gassing of Burton Abbott.

Yes, I know the arguments for the execution of those who murder others, either singly or in larger numbers; I’ve used and believed in them myself.

Could I, as an individual, put a bullet into the back of the head of a murderer? Throw the switch to his electric-chair? Open the trapdoor to hang him? Open the feed of the IV tube containing the drug to stop his (or her) heart? No, I do not believe that I could.

Could you? Would you if you could?

Could you hire someone else to do it? If we allow our criminal justice system to continue executing those convicted of murder, we are indeed hiring the executioner, if only through our votes and the taxes we pay.

Perhaps, just perhaps, state sanctioned violence in the name of justice is not the answer.

Our penchant for violence

On a related note, I wonder where we learn that violence is the answer to our problems.

Where do we first encounter violence by authority to enforce laws, rules, norms?

In adult life? Does your boss beat you when you make an error or lose a customer?

In school? Does your teacher/counselor/vice-principal swat/spank/cane you when you make a mistake or talk back to them?

As a child, did your mother slap you or take a hairbrush to your bottom; did your father spank you or take a belt to your bottom?

Did this teach you respect, as so many Internet memes would have it? Or did it teach you fear? Or did it teach you to sneak around to get away with whatever it was you wanted to get away with?

I’ll bet the real answer is not the answer we rationalize as adults in the here and now.

What did it teach you?

What does it teach someone who is two or three or five or ten years old when an adult in authority slaps/spanks/paddles them, no matter what the child’s offense?

It teaches the child that the answer is violence.

Companionship, not violence.