MEEKS: Not in my name

June 4, 2014 

Last week, the state of Georgia issued a death warrant for Marcus Wellons. He is a friend of ours at the Open Door Community and is faithfully ministered to by the community. We are sad, but we will not allow ourselves to be so overwhelmed by that sadness that we forget to speak up about this continued unacceptable practice of state-sanctioned killing.

I am opposed to the death penalty. I am also opposed to abortion, war and euthanasia. And the reason for my opposition is simple, no one has the right to take another person’s life. I don’t believe that an eye for an eye is a sustainable way to approach life. But, if I did believe in the death penalty, I would be opposed to this system that we have that allows it to be used in such unfair ways to punish the poor and those of color instead of having it be a system that is applied across the board in an equal and fair manner.

At the present moment in Georgia we have secrecy surrounding who makes the drugs, what combination of drugs is being used and which doctors are involved in executions. What a pity. It seems very unfitting that a doctor would be engaging in any practice that has to be kept a secret. It also seems odd for a person who took an oath to “do no harm” to participate in killing and to defend such behavior. But our Supreme Court has affirmed this practice of keeping all of this secret as being acceptable and not a violation of the rights of the accused.

Hopefully, our state Medical Board will step up to the plate and condemn physician involvement at some point which will help the abolition efforts. Abolition of the death penalty makes sense for these reasons along with the documented facts that it is an extraordinarily expensive process to enforce and does not deter murder or other crimes.

But, for me and many others, these practical matters are not the primary reason not to engage in this practice. The primary reason is summed up well by Mahatma Gandhi, “if we keep living an eye for an eye, we will end up with the whole world blind.”

Violence breeds violence, we see the evidence of that in our land every day. How did we get to this place where we can accept that a certain number of us will be killed by others of us each day? We report murder after murder as if we are talking about some ordinary event of daily life. How is that we can talk about murder as if it is an ordinary occurrence of life?

Perhaps we have fought too many wars, made our peace with too many abortions, decided that killing the suffering is more acceptable than embracing them in their pain, long enough to dull our senses to the horrors of taking life. No one has the right to take life just as no one can give life. Life is to be honored and held sacred.

This is true whether we are talking about the chickens, cows, pigs or sheep that will be slaughtered for food or the vegetables and fruits that are being eaten. Life is sacred and when we take the life of anything we should acknowledge that fact. Thus whenever it is possible, killing should be avoided. It is not necessary to have state-sanctioned killings, abortions, war or euthanasia. These acts can be avoided if and when we begin to want to avoid them. All across our country more and more voices can be heard saying, “not in my name.”

The voices of those who profess to follow that famous Palestinian, Jesus, the Christ, certainly need to be shouting out against any practice of killing. If Georgia goes forward with killing Marcus, it will not be in my name.

This column by Catherine Meeks, Ph.D., appears twice monthly. Meeks is also a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Email her at kayma53@att.net.

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