Killing time in California or California Uber Alles
Pealbear wrote on her blog:
Until yesterday, I'd been quite taken with my newly adopted state of California. The Bay Area seems to be a fun place to live. On my trip down to Santa Barbara for Thanksgiving, I had a real appreciation for the beauty and landscape of California.
Living in California is different. Tookie Willams was executed 15 miles from where I live now.
Like the man said, "California is a Garden of Eden. A paradise to live in or see. But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot, if you ain't got the do-re-mi."
More than once I have driven a visitor across the Golden Gate Bridge or across the Richmond San Rafael bridge and had someone ask about that buidling over there across the bay and seen the confusion in their eyes when facing the death row of "liberal, anything goes" California.
In my childhood down below what is either called the Orange Curtain or the Manson-Nixon Line, the shock to my visitors was the checkpoints on the highway where La Migra look in on your cars to see if you are white enough to drive from San Diego to Orange County or Riverside. From the San Clemente checkpoint you can just about see our nuclear power plant as well.
I'm a fourth generation Californian. I remember when the death penalty came back and I have been at the protest vigils for all but two of the executions that have happened since I moved to Northern California.
While I can recognize the desire and maybe even the occasional appropriateness of the desire to kill certain people (my pacifism is not absolute), I do not find it appropriate to let governments get into the business of killing people. Even if I am not sure about God, I will not willingly render unto Caesar the powers of life and death.
It is always intrinsically dangerous when we put the fiction (what James Luther Adams might call idolatry) of nations and states ahead of the reality of life and community.
I do not believe in the inherent worth and dignity of governments. I am a government servant and I believe that governments can sometimes serve human needs and the common good but are only justified to the extent that they do so.
I have served on a jury and appeared in front of judges. I do not delegate to any 12 of my peers or to anyone in a robe the right to decide who should live or die. This is not out of any lack of love for those peers or any potential judges (my attorney brother and sister in law would make great judges for what its worth). As an undergraduate, I studied jury psychology and the problems with eyewitness testimony and questioning (I got my only A+ in Psychology and the Law taught by Ebbe Ebbeson).
We are only human and our institutions are more so.
Rest in peace, Tookie. As we scatter your ashes to the wind may the world build the peace you worked towards. May we all know redemption and reconciliation.