Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Life For A Life
I have never understood the proposition that if one commits a murder, one should then be killed. Note I don't call this an argument; it isn't, it's a mere assertion which, when prodded with a sharp question or two, deflates into being a T-shirt slogan.
This comes to mind whenever I briefly recall that a few months ago I found myself in a position of saving someone’s life. It has no great emotional impact, I don't see it as being a seminal point in my life. What I did took no effort, it was merely the obvious actions of any normal human being. It wasn't, from my perspective, a big deal.
In a broader moral context, this is perhaps the obverse situation to being executed for murder. And just as sterile. As execution doesn't ameliorate the fact of the original murder one iota, neither does my having saved a life lift so much as one microgram of my guilt or moral stain for having killed.
We may hope, we may search, for some equivalence in a painful attempt to find some meaning in murder. But the truth is, each life is unique. Once extinguished, no number of other saved lives repairs that hole in the human fabric; and no number of executions leads to resurrection.