An Open Letter to Our World:
WHO ARE WE AS A CIVILIZATION
AND WHO DO WE CHOOSE TO BE?
My Dear Sisters and Brothers on this Journey of the Soul…
Recent days have seen two headlines in the news that once again invite us all to deeply consider who we are as a species — and who we choose to be.
One headline focuses on just released official U.S. Government documents that reveal that this nation was, past the middle of the last century, seriously considering a proposal to establish a manned military base on the moon that could be used for global intelligence gathering purposes — with the possibility of exploding a nuclear device on our Earth’s satellite.
The second story involves the two-hour death by lethal injection of Joseph Wood in an Arizona execution chamber.
According to the first story, at CNN.com, “The purpose of a nuclear detonation near or on the moon would be for show, a document said. Its ‘foremost intent was to impress the world with the prowess of the United States’.”
The CNN story opened with these words: “The U.S. military races to the moon to build a base — to beat the Russians to the punch. Maybe test a nuclear weapon on the surface. Consider a lunar-based bombing system to target earthbound foes. That was the plan in the 1960s, according to declassified national security documents released this week — some of them stamped as ‘SECRET’.”
While the idea of a lunar military outpost never got off the ground (so to speak), this was not because anyone in any official position wrote about the moral or spiritual implications of such a plan. It was apparently shelved because it was consider too risky, the CNN report said.
This says something about the human mindset that we all may wish to ponder.
The second headline involved the two-hour-long death by lethal injection of convicted murdered Joseph Wood in an Arizona prison on July 23.
According to this story at NBCnews.com, Mr. Wood is described as gasping something like 600 times by an approximate count of witnesses, seeming to be reaching for air as his execution took two hours to kill him.
Reporters who have seen executions before wrote in the Arizona press that in the past executions by injection took ten minutes to produce death. Any suggestion that Mr. Wood may have suffered cruel and unusual punishment was, however, dismissed by relatives of the two people Mr. Wood was convicted of murdering in 1989.
Asked about the possibility that Mr. Wood experienced an excruciating death, Jeanne Brown was quoted is this report by ABC News as having said: “You don’t know what excruciating is. Excruciating is seeing your dad lying there in a pool of blood, seeing your sister lying there in a pool of blood. That’s excruciating. This man deserved it.”
Ms. Brown is the sister of the woman and the daughter of the man that Joseph Wood was found guilty of shooting 25 years ago. Her husband, Andrew Brown, was quoted in the above ABC News story as saying “Everybody is worried about the drug. These people that do this, they deserve to suffer a little bit.”
“I saw the life go out of my sister-in-law’s eye as he shot her to death,” ABC News said he added. “I’m so sick of you guys (referring to the media) blowing this drug stuff out of proportion.”
Without commenting on the merits of the sentiments expressed by Mr. and Mrs. Brown, I am moved to wonder: Is the death penalty the way a society can best teach its members that killing people is wrong?
Does an advanced civilization use killing to end killing, violence to end violence, hatred and anger to bring an end to hatred and anger?
And what if it is not about a deterrent? What if it is just about what some people call simple justice? Is it a demonstration of a high level of evolution for a race of sentient beings to embrace a philosophy of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”? Is that the grandest notion that evolution brings?
My Dear Brothers and Sisters on the Journey…I ask these questions in the spirit of gentle but important inquiry.