Monday, 2 May 2011

A Pale Horse

And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. (Revelation 6:8)

When I was much younger, still in high-school in fact, we studied war. We looked at just causes of war, pacificm, conscientious objection, fighting, capital punishment and non-just causes of war.

My problem was always that I couldn't see an end point. War begets war. Fighting begets fighting. Death begets Death; "and Hell followed with him".

I didn't sleep much over the weekend and yet for some reason I woke up at 4am this morning. I think my old-political brain wakes me up whenever there is news going on in the world. Possibly not, but it felt like it whilst listening to the announcements coming out of the White House about the death of Osama bin Laden.

Very quickly many things seemed wrong. There was a sense of jubilation which felt disturbing to me. There was a clear shift in the division of responses from the initial comments to those as people around the world woke up. Maybe it is just the old idea of the British stiff-upper-lip but the impression was one of sadness at overall loss than either joy or relief. I feel deeply uneasy about seeing anyone rejoicing in the death of any person.

This made me wonder how the politics of death colours our view of things. More specifically, whether the use of the death penalty inherently changes opinions of justice in members of the public who are exposed to that system. It feels that there is a link drawn between justice and death when capital punishment is acceptable where that connection is not made otherwise. To my mind at least death and justice are just about as far removed from one another as it's possible to be.

Having said that, this thought process was going on at 5am and I never did get back to sleep so I might not be making a lot of sense. In other news I have been reading a couple of excellent books and plan to spend the rest of the day continuing to do so in between making some more greetings cards!

And just one more quote – one that is possibly even more appropriate, from Ivanhoe, which is a favourite book of mine.

For he that does good, having the unlimited power to do evil, deserves praise not only for the good which he performs, but for the evil which he forbears.”


1 comment:

  1. Vickie,
    My view precisely but expressed far more eloquently than I could ever do! I too feel deeply uneasy about the rejoicing of another's death.
    It seems to me that one of the defining characteristics of humanity and that which separates us from the animal kingdom must be that we can anticipate, fear, rationalise and consider the implications of death on ourselves and others.
    In that context, the death of another - whatever their background, crimes and justification - is not a matter for celebration but rather reflection. To rejoice at the death of another no matter their crimes is, it seems to me, to cheapen the very soul and essence of our basic humanity. When I hear that someone 'deserved to die' I am deeply uneasy. When I see rejoicing at the death of a person feel that somehow our humanity has been lessened.