Monday, January 01, 2007

Was Justice Done?

Was Justice Done?

Just before the end of 2006, the headlines rang out with the death by hanging of Sadam Hussein. There were headlines like…


But the Chicago Tribune also had a headline the following day “Was Justice too Swift”? The local paper here had an article from the Daily Herald Wire Services. It was entitled “Many Condemn Execution.” In it there is the following quote:

“God will give him his punishment,” said Laila Nagi Habib, 42, a Shiite and homemaker who lives outside Sadr City.”

But think about that for a moment. God didn’t hang Sadam Husein, one human (a judge) sentenced him to death and another human being hung him - not God. The same local paper that featured the headline “Executed” also featured an article from the associated press that was entitled “Karma Doesn’t Always Strike” It had some astounding statistics which put a few things in perspective and certainly gives one pause to think. Here they are:

Joesph Stalin - Soviet Leader 1929-1953. Started the Great Famine which killed 10 million Ukrainians

Adolf Hitler - German Nazi Party Leader 1933-45. Regime killed some 6 million Jews in the World War II Holocaust; committed suicide in 1945

Pol Pot - Khmer Rouge Leader 1975-early 1990s. Responsible for the deaths of up to 2 million Cambodians from 1975-1979. Died 1998.

Idi Amin - Uganda president 1971-1979. Ordered thousands massacred; regime overthrown in 1979; died in 2003, Saudi Arabia.

Slobodan Milosevic - Serbia President 1989-1997, Yugoslavia 1997-2000. Responsible for deaths of more than 200,000 people in 1992-1995; died in March.

Ask the average Christian whether it is right to kill someone or not, and immediately one thing comes to mind…Exodus 20:13 (KJV)

“Thou shalt not kill”

Yet if we look in the very next book of the old testament, Leviticus we find something different….

"'If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head.” Leviticus 20:9 (NIV)

Chapter 20 continues on like this for several versus, giving a punishment of death for various acts. Yet when Christ Himself was on earth He told us, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17) Christ took this further…

“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44)

If this is not specific enough Christ told us this:

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

As we have discussed before, Christ made no exceptions. Christ said love EVERYONE. No exceptions. Even your enemies. Even people who persecute you. Consider St. Paul. His chief mission in life, before he had his epiphany was to kill Christians. God obviously loved him. He is a saint.

But how far does this go? Love Everyone?

Do we have the right to kill a mass murderer kill like Sadam Husein? What about someone like Adolf Hitler? Do we have to love even them?

Mother Superior gave me a exercise once. She said try to find something good about everyone. “Everyone?” I asked. “Everyone” was my answer.

My father had a secretary who escaped the death camps during world war II. She had a number tattooed on her arm and we all know what that means. She would tell of having to carry a grocery bag full of money to the store just to buy one loaf of bread. Adolph Hitler brought Germany out of what was a great world wide depression. If there is anything else good about him, I could never find it. Okay, the truth of the matter, is after his fall, Germany ended up in an even worse depression. That and he is one of histories worst mass murders.

But if Hitler hadn’t committed suicide would we have the right to put him to death?

Or would we be obligated to love even him?


Mata Hari said...

Would Christ have put Saddam Hussein to death? Would Christ have put Adolph Hitler to death? I believe Christ brought a New Testament. A New Commandment. To love one another. Would the Son of God have allowed one of his own children be put to death? I'm not so sure.

More scientifically, there is no evidence to suggest that murder (as it may be condoned by a judicial sentence in a court of law) will act as a deterrent to other would-be offenders. HOw can you teach people not to kill by killing. Politically, his death is a statement. It may serve to do what the CIA did with Che Guevara - make him an international enigmatic hero.

Adolf Hitler was a great thinker. He gave a pride to a very very beleaguered nation. A pride which still exists in German people today. He was a talented artist and encouraged the invention and creation of many great things: The Autobahn, The Volkswagen.

I like to remember that one man's terrorist is another man's revolutionary.

Mahatma Ghandi was viewed by many as a menace, a terrorist. Was he? In their eyes, most definitely. In my eyes? It doesn't really matter, because I don't get to decide on his fate.

Anonymous said...

The media has lost all sense of discretion. We have CNN playing here where I work and all you see is this gruesome hanging. The newspapers were covered with tasteless pictures of Saddam's dead body. That is someone's child, someone's dad, someone's someone. The media should try and be respectful of that.