Just found out today that a high school classmate died in 1995 and that there were enough awful details that it resulted in a huge wrongful death lawsuit against the Scientologists.
My high school had 4,400 students my senior year. Our graduation ceremony was endless. I didn't know this person very well and haven't kept up with most of the goings-on of my HS friends since. I've never attended a reunion, although I was tempted once. One of my best friends from HS and I were going to go. We even went to the location the day before to scout it for escape exits. On the way there, we bailed.
I was involved in some activities in high school... football, newspaper mainly... that were enough to have provided me with access to the "cool kids" but I don't like labels and I don't like cliques. Didn't then, don't know. Before I was involved in those groups, I was on the "outside" and then when I was a part of them I didn't feel like that alone made me cool enough to be "inside." I was the same person all along.
As those of you who read my Mormon piece must have surmised, I have major questions about religion. Honestly, I think it's done a lot more harm than good. If a deity exists and that deity cares about us, then He/She It would probably be pretty pissed about the way we treat each other. We're a violent little creature. We kill way too much to be holy beings.
I think of the sacred "10 Commandments" and remember that one of the biggies there is "Thou Shalt Not Kill." Yet the same people who make such a show of their religion are eager to support our going to war and killing countless people, or cheer when a politician brags about administering the death penalty.
If God says "Thou Shalt Not Kill" there aren't loopholes. So, war or killing another human is out unless it's done for self-defense/protection. Thou Shalt Not Kill. It's only four words. There isn't a lot of wiggle room there.
And so it goes for the death penalty as well. A friend of mine is working on a thesis involving the death penalty. She's trying to gain access to some of the condemned inmates. It's been proven beyond a doubt that people have suffered state-sanctioned murders for crimes they did not commit.
There are plenty of irredeemable people in our prisons (and out). Use as an extreme example someone like Timothy McVeigh. His actions led directly to the deaths of 168 people. Clearly a bad person. An evil person. Someone who should never be allowed to be free.
But should he have been executed? No. In fact, executing him made him a martyr to the kooks who think like he did.
It took me years to appreciate the genius of what John Donne related here (emphasis added):
"No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."