The Death Penalty

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A few days ago I was reading a blog about the death penalty. There were lots of comments. I used to be in favor of the death penalty, as in “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” partly because I had some excess anger in my nature and partly because I learned it from the Christian religion. Essentially, it’s about retribution; if you do something bad, you deserve to be treated badly in return.

When I discovered reincarnation, I saw reaping what you sow (karma) kind of that way, as well. Some people see karma as retribution and some as a natural outcome of behavior, more like  “garbage in, garbage out,” in computer speak, which involves no judgment – just facts.

I have some questions about karma. For instance, when someone murders another person, what is the murderer’s karma? Does the murderer eventually have to be murdered by the person he murdered in order to pay his karmic debt? Or is the debt paid if he is murdered by just anyone? Is there another way he can pay?

Is the victim paying a karmic debt by being murdered? What if the victim murdered the murderer in another lifetime? Does the second murder cancel the karma between them? I don’t know, and even if I did, I don’t know whether I’d believe it or not. That’s a subject for another blog. Hm.

If karma means you get what you give, what about the genocide in Africa? Do the murderers become victims of genocide in a future lifetime? In the 1994 Rwandan genocide, forgiveness has brought peace to some survivors.

Forgiveness is the opposite of retribution. It creates healing. Forgiveness is not approval; it’s about starting over. Without forgiveness, brutality would never stop. I don’t know whether I could turn the other cheek, as Jesus taught, if someone physically hurt me. That would be hard. It might be easier to forgive the person after I hurt him back.

It seems forgiveness is the way to go if you want inner peace – or not, if you want revenge. I guess it depends on what you want.

In “The Magical Child” by Joseph Chilton Pearce, there is the true story of a young woman who was attacked in New York City by two thugs who hijacked her car at a traffic light and drove to an isolated location with the intent to rape and rob her. Instead of reacting in panic, she found herself attempting to comfort her attackers.

After the incident, she said she could feel their fear and was overwhelmed with compassion for them. As she was about to be raped, she embraced the man and said to him, “Everything’s okay. You don’t have to do this. You can have my car and my money. Don’t be afraid.” As she continued to comfort her attackers, they began to cry and told her they were sorry. Eventually, they dropped her off at a subway stop and she went on her way, unharmed, never reporting her ordeal to the police.

Was it because their violence was met with compassion – without judgment, without fear, that this woman was spared? Was it karma? It’s clear that she touched them deeply.

The upshot for me is, now I don’t know whether I believe in the death penalty or not. By sentencing someone to death, are we facilitating his/her karma? Or are we creating karma for ourselves?

More questions than answers. Any thoughts?

Live your purpose every day.


2 thoughts on “The Death Penalty

  1. That’s right. When something destructive is going on, it has to stop somewhere in order for change to happen. More food for thought.

    Thanks for the link. It seems a kind of revolution has come out of the genocide in terms of leadership for women. How wonderful that this can happen in the midst of heartbreaking chaos. Their courage is prevailing.


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