So yesterday Troy Davis was executed for a crime he may not have committed and it’s got me thinking again about the justice system.
Is it there for punishment or rehabilitation?
There seems to be 2 camps here, one who claims that society would break down if we’re not tough on criminals and give harsh punishments and one that says that we need to rehabilitate criminals and improve society that way.
It seems to me to be quite clear that the death penalty is abhorrent, morally wrong and simply lowers the judicial system to the same level as the criminals who commit serious crimes. How can we suggest with a straight face that the way to deter people from harming others is to threaten to harm them? It’s also quite clear to me that the death penalty doesn’t work as a deterrent any more than extended prison sentences do. What we really need is to provide people who find themselves in prison with the best chance of turning their lives around when they get out. We need to ensure that they are educated and have a chance at employment. We need to ensure that they have viable alternatives to a life of crime.
I’ve heard people complain why should they get free education and special treatment when others have to pay? I think we need to look at the circumstances that lead to people committing crimes in the first place. If you’re born into a deprived area where the norm is to take drugs, drink in excess and use violence as a communication tool then chances are you don’t consider the alternatives. The person born into a middle class family and one born into a deprived area don’t start with equal life chances.
We need to find ways to break the cycle of crime, of violence and of inequality.
We must in this day and age, with all the experience of the past, be able to find solutions that allow us to balance punishment, deterrence and rehabilitation. Then we’ll have a better, safer society.
Until we can achieve that surely we can at least act like humans and rid the world of the death penalty.
Imagine that you’re told by the doctor that you’re HIV positive. Imagine that you are a single mother with 2 children. Imagine that you work as a support worker within one of the poorest communities in your country. Imagine that you regularly have more children come to your school than you have food. Imagine that you spend your days caring for other people suffering with HIV.
Imagine that you are one of the most alive people in the world. That you light up a room with your laugh and smile and that you praise and worship God in everything.
I met someone in Zambia recently when I was volunteering that was all of these people. Who puts me to shame when I feel tired or get frustrated with work or life.
Someone who loves God when many would blame him for their illness.
Who lives life to the full in a place where it looks impossible.
Who gives generously out of her poverty.
Who inspired us, who went there to be inspiring.
I hope one day to live life in a way where inspiration and light shine out of me a fraction of the amount that it does from the countless people I’ve met like this living in the harshest of places in the world.
Election season has just finished here in Scotland and a new Scottish Government has been elected.
During the election campaign the parties and many organisations in society were producingmanifestos filled with their aims and it got me thinking,
what would my manifesto for life be?
so I decided to note down a few things, here are three that stood out for me.
1. I will seek to live a life of justice.
For me this means I’ll seek to live in a way that doesn’t hurt others, that treats everyone with respect. I’ll seek to raise awareness of global poverty and injustice and I’ll make personal sacrifices to do what I can to end poverty.
2. I will take responsibility for my actions.
I think too often in life we look for someone to blame for the way our lives turn out. We conveniently forget about all the choices we make that shape our lives. It’s my aim to live an honest and moral life and when I make mistakes I hope to be big enough to accept them.
3. I will seek God in all that I do.
This is quite simple really. It’s my aim to understand what God wants me to do with this life he’s given me and then get out and do it.
If I manage to live out those three then I think I’ll be doing ok.
I recently read a blog post over at Advanced Riskology about the idea of achieving some personal goals that only 1% of society will achieve. I’ve got to say that it inspired me. It also got me thinking about what would be on my list.
What things do I want to do with my life that only 1% of the world’s population will achieve?
I’m not going to share a definitive list today, I want to think about it for a while but I wonder what things you might add to your list?
I wonder if you’re motivated by money or lifestyle or pushing yourself to extremes physically. I wonder if you’d be more inspired to be recognised intellectually or to have some lasting legacy that bettered society?
I don’t know what will be on my list but I’m interested to know why I’m inspired to write one. I’m interested to know why I don’t like to settle for average.
It’s also got me wondering about that word average when applied to life.
Is there such a thing as an average life?
When I think of the word average I think also of words like mundane, mediocre and ordinary. It’s clear from words like mediocre that I’m not inspired by average but is that fair? It’s ok for us to strive for excellence, to want that little bit more, to want to live life to the full but it’s not ok for me to judge those who are happy to settle for average. It’s not ok for me devalue their achievements and their dreams whether I want them for myself or not. So perhaps that’s where I’ll start on my list.
Perhaps if I can reach a place where I don’t judge others, where I value their life experiences as much as my own I’ll be in the 1% of people in the world who can accept others for who and what they are without trying to reshape them to fit my needs.
Let’s assume that we’re not talking about people here, what 1 thing would be most useful in rebuilding my life after a devastating event?
I’ve thought about this a little today, I started with my computer because it has all my pictures, music and writing on there. But then perhaps I’d simply move on without them so maybe they’re not so important after all.
I then thought about clothes or food which would be very useful in the short term but actually not so useful in rebuilding a new life.
I’ve finally settled on my passport. You see one of the first things I’d need to establish is that I am me. I realised it’s quite tricky to rebuild your life if you can’t prove who you are.
It puts into perspective all of the other things that I think are important in my life if I’m not that bothered about saving them.
What would you save to help you rebuild your life after something like this? Remember I’m not talking about people or pets.
I’m in Paris at the moment and today I visited le Musee Du Louvre and the Mona Lisa. I enjoyed it, I’ve been blessed to be able to visit galleries and museums all over the world and seen some of the most famous works of art and I always enjoy it.
Today when I went to see the Mona Lisa it reminded me of being at a club or music gig, lots of noise and pushing. Everyone squeezing down the front. I took this picture because at one moment I noticed I was the only person just looking at the painting. Very few people that I saw actually looked at the painting with anything other than a viewfinder. They just clicked their picture and walked away.
No-one was just living in the moment, drinking in the artwork in front of them. They seemed to be focussed on getting a snapshot to put on Facebook. This reminded me of something I overheard in the British Library in London a few days ago. We were looking at some of the oldest documents in the world, the Magna Carta, the oldest printed books, hand written sheet music from Vivaldi and Mozart. First drafts of some of the worlds best literary fiction scored out passages included. Anyway I heard someone mention that we won’t have this in future, with the advent of computers how many of the current generation’s output will we have in hand written form? She was right, I mean no-one is going to pay to see a typed script of a play with tracked changes are they?
I also saw some good use of technology, I saw one guy on a slate computer finding out about the painting he was looking at and then adding notes. I like that you can get audio guides in every language to allow you to have a guided tour at your own pace. But I’m left wondering if all progress is good. I’m not a traditionalist normally but I can see some things being lost in society that I think we could do with keeping.
Perhaps we could learn to see technology as a tool to be controlled not a command to follow. Perhaps we could learn to slow down a little and find a gentler rhythm.