Posted by: paulbassler | May 13, 2013

Killing the Killers

As a nation, we’ve had a tough year. From the murder of children at the elementary school to the Boston Marathon bombing, the Jodi Arias murder and the Dr. Goznell killing of babies, we have all been overwhelmed by murderous, senseless violence. Aside from the empathy we all feel for the victims and their families involved in these crimes, we, as a society, are left with the dilemma of deciding what to do to the perpetrators. I have to admit, I have been astounded at what appears to be an overwhelming desire to put these perpetrators to death.

It is certainly understandable why the victims and families of the victims would call for the death penalty for those who committed these crimes. After all, it’s a natural response to want to inflict as much pain as possible on someone who robbed us of a loved one for personal and selfish reasons, even though we all know that killing the perpetrators will not bring our loved ones back. An eye for eye still appears to be our nation’s belief in justice.

The thing is, people who kill other people justify their actions, as strange as that might sound to most of us. Whether it is Jodi Arias, who was convicted of killing her former boyfriend, or the Boston Marathon bombers, who believed Americans deserve to be killed for political reasons, they all justify their actions in their own way of interpreting their reality. The question we have to ask ourselves is, do we want to justify our response by killing them? In truth, if we are going to have a more peaceful world, we must all stop justifying killing, in all its forms. Easier said than done I know. An argument can be made, however, that sparing the lives of murderers is not about saving the criminals, it’s about saving ourselves. Do we want to become the very thing that we are condemning?

Few would argue that criminals should not be punished. Some would say that capital punishment is the ultimate form of punishment. But is it? I would argue that there are many ways we could make life hell for violent murderers rather than sending them to hell after death, if there is such a place. Condemning criminals to a life of hard labor would be a better form of justice than allowing them to die. As mentioned, killing the killers would not bring back our loved ones.

We have all heard the argument that we should keep murderers alive so we can learn what went wrong in their heads that led them to kill. I really don’t care what led them to kill. I’m not interested in being compassionate or understanding. I, like most folks, want revenge. But I don’t want to become a murderer as a justification for punishing murderers.

I think it is fair to say that we all are somewhat responsible for the violence in our society. We all see murder every day on our television shows, video games and movies. I’ve heard it said that each of us have seen thousands of murders on television before we even become adults. We’re supposed to distinguish between murder for entertainment, as movie producers sell, and murder for real. It is obvious that many folks don’t make that distinction. If we really wanted to get rid of murder, we need to remove it from our mind-set. Stop selling it in our movies and televisions shows. Stop selling in on video games. Movie producers say that they are only reflecting reality, not recognizing that they are creating reality at the same time. Look at smoking tobacco. It used to be that people smoked on television and in the movies all the time. Over time, however, as they have stopped showing smokers on television and in the movies, we have seen a drastic cut in smoking throughout our society. We can change our own behavior, not only as individuals but as a society. We must first recognize that we are creating our own reality through our thoughts and beliefs about reality. Change our thoughts, alter our beliefs, and we will change our reality. It is really that simple.

Becoming killers to stop killing has not worked. If we continue to seek justice through an eye for an eye, we may all end up blind.

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