Death Or Liberty

A lot of what we call justice or morality is based on the notion that death is the worst thing that can happen. You deprive another person of life, that’s pretty much the worst thing you can do, right? To quote Clint Eastwood‘s character in Unforgiven, “…you take away everything a man has, and everything he’s gonna have.” It’s a common concept, but it’s wrong, at least from a spiritual perspective, by which I mean that if you believe in an afterlife of pretty much any kind, death is merely a transition. If you don’t believe in an afterlife, death is an end; certainly an end to all of life’s potential suffering, as well as to its potential pleasures. The spiritual dimension to this philosophical conundrum has implications in nearly every facet of life and the law. The law, the courts and juries are often charged with deciding who deserves to die, and yet we all die, so it should hardly surprise us if some people don’t consider death a deterrent; certain death didn’t deter Jesus, nor Joan of Arc, and I could cite further examples all afternoon. The enduring power of the above-referenced movie lies in a quote that appears later in the film, when the would-be gunslinger asks, “I guess he had it comin’, huh?” and Clint’s character says, “We’ve all got it comin’, kid.”  This is all preamble to why I think most folks misplace their anger and outrage, and why I think Trayvon Martin’s death, while not unimportant, is not national news, but a distraction. More to come.

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