Thursday, January 04, 2007

Dead Man Walking

Tonight I went to Malmö Opera to see "Dead Man Walking" directed by Stewart Laing. It was a Christmas present from Nilla and, after some halfhearted first minutes, the play turned out to be quite outstanding! Of course, the underlying theme is existentially important; to have the courage to accept the truth, to ask for forgiveness, and to repent. In some lines I could indeed see a reflection of Søren Kierkegaard smiling somewhere out there in the dark theater hall.

In the break, Nilla and I came to talk about to what extent people are open to rational reasoning when it comes to the question of capital punishment. Probing my own arguments against capital punishment I realized that they are all, more or less, religious. Of course, there is always the risk that someone innocent is sentenced. But to be honest. Much like the die-hard old testament reciting people in the South, I turn to transcendental reasoning when asked why capital punishment is morally wrong. In the words of Gibran:

Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world.
But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you, so the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.
And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree, so the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all.
Like a procession you walk together towards your god-self.
You are the way and the wayfarers.
And when one of you falls down he falls for those behind him, a caution against the stumbling stone.
Ay, and he falls for those ahead of him, who though faster and surer of foot, yet removed not the stumbling stone.
One last note. Regardless of what one may think about the European Union in other aspects, it is clearly an outstanding moral achievement that the union so unambiguously has rejected capital punishment. It makes me proud of being European.


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