I woke at the crack of dawn this morning from a sleep I’d never quite achieved–horrified, enveloped in grief and confusion.
The sun had not disappeared from the sky forever, there was no nuclear mushroom cloud outside my window yet I was weighed down and weary as if I’d put more than a few down last night. As I tried to re-orient myself, the phrase I’d tried to put away for the last two weeks came back to me again…”Today Is A Good Day To Die.”
The image of Timothy McVeigh being paraded to his death involuntarily flashed across my mind’s data screen.
I note it as any good Buddhist would and try to continue with my morning routine. By the time I reach the bathroom, though, I have to wash my face three or four times just to see myself through tears that won’t be turned away. Deep breath, cold water. I hit the cushion for morning meditation, business as usual. This is of no use, I quickly realize…routine is just the problem. So I don’t resist the sobs that crowd out the silence I went looking for.
Do we all feel better? Does ANYbody feel better now? I hope so. Really, I do. Because the only thing I feel certain of today is that I do not.
But McVeigh is Guilty, you say? I don’t care. Or more to the point, that isn’t the matter. The matter is that as a species we simply do not possess the wisdom–political, social, spiritual or otherwise–to put any other being to death. In a time when we are so desperately seeking to forge connections to our spirits and souls in the face of the mounting cacophony of our ever-distancing, over-busy lives, we have participated in sending, no…enabling a man to his death in the name of Justice, to uphold The Law, as a matter of Routine.
So routine that shortly after 9am, when I finally give in to my perpetual access to information online and steel myself to read the story behind the first McVeigh headline, I find this paradoxically anti-climatic and absurdly simple note: “A government source confirmed the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh Monday morning.”
The brevity was insult to my hopelessly injured Spirit. More important, it spoke loudly to a possible moment of second-guessing remorsefulness about our Death Media Cirus. A moment that will not last long.
To be honest, I’m not sure if I care about McVeigh at all. Once he was caught, I didn’t follow the case closely because it was a rerun that I already knew the end of. But the collective ease with which we have come to accept killing people in the broad daylight of our minds with our eyes wide shut is staggering. My buddhistic references render visions of Kwan Yin, manifestation of Compassion who hears the cries of the world. I’m sure she’s gone deaf by now, and somehow I doubt that that is what the Royal Ease pose she strikes is supposed to be about.
No, I’m not a bleeding heart liberal or super-pacificist-so-just-dismiss-me Buddhist. I quite firmly believe that sometimes people need their ass kicked in the moment. But during this week that Guilty McVeigh would die and Innocent Faison and Shepherd have been set free, we have deluded ourselves into thinking all is right and good…for now anyway.
Black Activists, White Thinkers and vice-versa, if you imagine that Mumia is any less Guilty than McVeigh in the Eyes of the Government Beholder with the killing stick in hand, merely because of time delay than you have really made Delusion your bed-partner. Wake up, I tell you. You are sleeping through an evil revolution. If one of us can die, not only can we all, but we all DO.
Don’t start to rationalize how one is justified and another is not. Unlike any other species, we are capable of literally thinking things (and people) to Death.
This same week I have received more email with the schedule for tax rebates than anti-death dealing protests or anything else. Rebates are news. Death is routine. All I want someone to tell me is: Exactly how do we tell our gun-toting kids that you should never, never, except sometimes kill anyone?
I know its terribly escapist, but I’m going to go to bed tonite much earlier than I usually do because I want to wake up on a different day. Any other day. Because it is not a good day to die when it is at the hands of our brothers and sisters of the Race (Human, that is) and when Anger and Pain are the weapons. It’s never a good day when the cost is the hardening of our hearts, where the lesson will live in us and our children’s psyches and spirits forever.
Today is not a good day to die. Indeed, it just plain isn’t a good day.
In a desperate attempt at repentance,
angel Kyodo williams
© MMI, angel Kyodo williams. all rights reserved.
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This essay first appeared June 2001 in connection with the execution of Timothy McVeigh.
If any good at all comes of it, may that benefit be extended to ALL my relations.