Monday, May 2, 2011

Another Murder

It's been a week and a half since Good Friday, the oddly named day (yes, I get it; it's still odd) when believers remember what must be the most famous execution in history.
Yesterday, there was another.
The former, according to believers, led to resurrection, eternal life, hope, rebirth, renewal, all that good stuff. His followers go to church and pray.
The latter, we are told, requires special high alert for reprisals. His followers will now glorify him as a martyr.
And people gathered in Times Square and at the site of the World Trade Center and I suppose at the Pentagon and cheered.  While the Mets-Phillies game went into extra innings, fans at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia stood and chanted
No, I am not suggesting an equivalence.
When Ted Bundy was killed, Time reported that
some 200 bloodthirsty revelers gathered outside the penitentiary in Starke, Fla., for a ghoulish celebration. They lit sparklers, cheered and waved signs reading BURN, BUNDY, BURN and ROAST IN PEACE.
No equivalence there, either.
And it won't be equivalent when, Texas murders Cary Kerr tomorrow night or Ohio murders Danny Bedford two weeks after that.  Nor for any of the others we have murdered and will murder in the name of, for the sanctity of, the state.
Nor, of course, is there equivalence between what our victims are said to have done and what we did to them.
There's no equivalence because, first, our motives are pure.  We're good and they're bad.  We kill for the right reasons.  And we can't make mistakes.  Or we catch them all if we start to.  Never any collateral damage.  No suffering for those who don't deserve it.  (What, you think it isn't your fault that someone you cared for killed?  Damn right you should suffer.)  No friendly fire.
All of which is silly. What we are is human.  Even the least human of us.
Yet if we have that in common, still there's also no equivalence because every death, every murder is personal, individual.
Maybe the murder of Jesus changed things.  Believers will say so.  But then, they'll also say he wasn't human or was something more than human.  Killing a God, that's different, somehow.
Or maybe it's all the same.
And yet deeply personal.
Just ask those who mourn.
And then ask these questions:
Are we better today than we were yesterday?  Are we safer? Are we freer?
Are you still urged to keep an eye out for abandoned packages?  Has TSA declared an end to Scope and Grope?  Are they emptying Gitmo?  Or providing a real trial for Khalid Shekih Mohammed?
Are the troops coming home?  Are the dead resurrected, the injured healed?  Is peace at hand?  Is the budget balanced?  Have we cured cancer?
We killed a man (and others, by the way).
Let us rejoice mourn.
If not because he deserved our tears, then because we do.

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