I'm always late on these kinds of threads, mainly because I shy away from them (as long as I can). These thoughts keep coming to me and I can't avoid it anymore.
Here's the story (part true, part imagined) of two young men. One became a policeman, just like his father. He was from a good, but poor family. He wanted to save people from injustice. He had watched his father all of his young life and he was very proud. He listened intently to the stories his father would tell at night. He saw the agony on his father's face when he had witnessed death; when humanity had been inhumane. Yet, his father would go back the next day and the next and the next. He was so proud of his father. He wanted to become a policeman some day. And so he did.
The other young man wanted to join a gang. He wanted to be the leader of the gang. He too came from a good but poor family, but he made poor decisions with his life. His father, a common laborer who worked very hard to feed his family, tried to keep him from joining the gang. His mother pleaded with him not to join. They said he was a good boy, but he was associating with the wrong kind of people. Those bad boys would only corrupt him. At 12, just to prove his manhood, he stole a car. He wrecked it, was caught and served a few months in detention. At 13, he stole a gun. His first gun. At 14 he became brave enough to use his gun and he robbed a service station. He was caught and again was sentenced to a short stay in detention. He told his family he had changed. He said he was on the road to rehabilitation. They believed him. At 16 he got ahold of an assault rifle. He got it from a "friend." He traded a stolen video camera for it. At 17, he was dealing drugs and shaking down anyone in his pathway.
One dark night, the two young men met. The second young man, now the leader of a gang, had just shot another young member of a rival gang. The first young man, now 24 and in his first year as a police officer, made the scene just in time to see his young rival fleeing. He ordered him to stop and give up his weapon. Instead, the young gang leader stopped, turned and fired. The policeman fell. The gang member approached and shot him again, until he was dead.
One wore blue and one wore black. Both were poor. One decided to uphold the law and protect the public, the other, to become an outlaw. Both had guns. One issued, one no doubt stolen. One tried to stop a murder. One murdered. One wants mercy, the other was once merciful. One's parents want him to be saved. The other's parents want justice. The jury said guilty - put the young man to death. The young man said he did not get a fair trial. He continued to be more concerned about himself than anyone or anything else.
The judge contrasted the two lives. He said it wasn't the parent's fault. It wasn't societies fault. It wasn't the gun's fault. It wasn't the other gang member's fault. It was clearly the young man's fault. He should and now must take responsibility for his own actions. The judge formally sentenced him to death.
Could the young man be saved? Could he be rehabilitated? He says he can. He says he already is. I don't believe him, but it's so sad to see a young life end. "Dead man walking" is so appropriate. He could be 35 or 40 before he dies. There are thugs and then there are thugs. Can you be hardened at 17? Perhaps. I struggle with this whole issue, then I see guys like O.J. get away. If anyone deserves to die, it's him. I'll bet most people feel like me. If I were asked to vote straight up or down on the death penalty, I'd say yes. If I'm given extenuating circumstances, I suddenly am on the fence. Again, no answers. God help us. Peace to all. Jim