Last night we watched a powerful episode of West Wing (Take this Sabbath Day), in which President Bartlett must decide whether to stay the execution of a convicted murderer. The President hears from a Quaker, a Priest, a Rabbi, his team in the White House, all arguing that he must save the man who would be killed by the state.
I was deeply affected by this. So much so that the show’s impact caught me off-guard and left me a bit weepy. Surprised by weeping has not been rare since the son arrived.
For many years I called myself pacifist, and though I would not do so now, I am still deeply committed to non-violence, and oppose all use of the capital punishment. Beyond this, any violence committed by one against another is tragedy, and we ought to with all our efforts see these acts avoided. For they are death to our souls. Laments on the tragic behavior of human violence are not new to my pen.
What is new (or renewed, really) with the sting of last night’s West Wing (though I suspect triggered more by our babe than by Mr. Sorkin) is a hardened reawakening of this principal: all violence is death, and non-violence, peace, must be the path to which we all commit ourselves.
I find this difficult, in this stage of my life, because I have long since left off the absolutes that accompany such principled statements like “all violence is death” or “all must commit ourselves”. How can this be true, when I shutter to think that any universal notion extends from this bag of meat and bones in this point and time and reaches forth to all the cosmos?
Difficult to reconcile. Anyway, The West Wing is a wonderful show.
I am back to the world today, with 526 emails in the inbox, and no real motivation to find my way through them. I thought I’d look to the world to see what events transpired, but only made it a few minutes before I had to look away. There was the jury selection for George Zimmerman and the Santa Monica Shooting and the NSA spying programs. The world is a violent and terrible place, sometimes, and that violence is reaching further into my veins. Lately my work in climate and energy and environment has been painted with the hue of violence: if we humans are capable of keeping the earth habitable for ourselves, we better live like we deserve it. And as a newborn consumes not only one’s time and sleep but also mental capacity, I find myself struggling to re-enter the roughness of this earth’s human corners.
Alas, the world beckons.