Last night we executed a fellow human being and we have nothing to show for it.
I did not know William Morva and only distantly involved myself in his case for clemency in its final days. But I am deeply disheartened when pain and suffering of any kind is due to our misunderstanding of control. The truth is we live in a world that has its issues. Our societies are established such that only a few people attain success, though we are all taught to seek it. External control is an impossibility, though we are all trained to desire it. And there are always a few individuals so dismayed they will resort to violence, though we are all told it is wrong. Ours is a system so structured as to make little sense to any of us while causing much stress to most of us. It is likely we get frustrated, and even that we look for some form of resolution through illogical means such as the death penalty. We resort to an eye for an eye out of confusion – lost in a world unintentionally but necessarily organized to produce anxiety and hardship.
William Morva’s death will not make us safer. His absence does not give us more control today then yesterday. If anything, we have less of it – we are not at all in control when our emotions dictate our behavior. In executing a man, we became murderers ourselves. We let external circumstances impact our internal peace. No amount of power or triumph over another can increase our grasp of things, hence our actions have once again been driven by reaction to the events and contexts around us rather than logic from within. It does not matter how many people we execute, the only thing we can truly control is our own mind and the only avenue therein is through self-reflection.
I empathize with the urge to lash out, to punish others – we are all besieged by the same faulty system. Yet until we give up the struggle, there will continue to be tremendous danger inherent in our actions. Those who chase external control are bound to exhibit behavior both harmful to others and detrimental to its objective. Paradoxically, we are our own worst enemy. Any act of aggression toward another ends up hurting ourselves and the more we seek control the less we have of it. Fundamentally, it is the essence of the human condition – a species smart enough to rationalize its relentless, self-defeating, and sometimes brutal pursuit of an unattainable goal.
Last night we executed a fellow human being. And we have nothing to show for it.