On the Tsunami, the death penalty, and other thoughts…

Yes, if you know me, you’ve likely already read this.  Previously published somewhere else in 2009.

I had a dream the other night involving an image that has haunted me for four years now. It is of an Indonesian woman, likely in her early 20s and probably a mother, clinging to several children who, along with her, are almost wholly submerged in the waters of the tsunami in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. She is struggling to hold on to something as she also struggles desperately to hold the children. She never lets go. They are taken from her by the water as she screams, still trying to save her own life. But the attempt is in vain. I know what her fate was. We all do.

I did not witness this firsthand. I watched it on television from the relative safety of my husband’s home in Bali. But the tsunami itself still dramatically affected me. The “residual” effects still surface more often than I ever expected them to. Although I never lost anyone personally, I felt the sorrow of the whole region. This nightmare still creeps up on me from time to time, stirring me into a place of heightened awareness and emotion.

Several days following the dream, my husband told me about the impending execution of the Bali bombers. Paddy’s Bar, the only bar my husband and I ever frequented in Kuta Beach, was destroyed in the bombs, along with the Sari Club. We were there, in fact, a few nights before returning to Canada in 2002, only nine days before the bombings themselves. I think of that often. . . . How is it we could be enjoying ourselves in one place, oblivious to any potential danger, and then find ourselves a whole world away, learning from CNN that that same place no longer existed? Two hundred people were dead and 200 more injured. And we were no longer even in the vicinity.

Three men have now been executed. They were executed by firing squad. Some of those who follow Sharia law in Indonesia were calling for the men to be beheaded but the Indonesian government considered that cruel and unusual punishment. The men would be executed under Indonesian, and not Sharia, law, which considers death by firing squad the appropriate means of execution.

At my core, I strongly oppose the death penalty in any form . . . I think. I say I think because in my quietest moments, when I think of how our laws here in Canada can, on occasion, fail us, I question the usefulness of our entire system. What if this criminal behaviour visited my front door? What then? Could I claim to be someone who does not support the most severe punishment humanly possible in this type of situation? I don’t know that I could.

Like the tsunami, the bombing felt too close. However, I do not feel any different now, knowing that the bombers have been executed. I do not feel relieved or have a sense of “closure.” I just kind of feel numb about the whole thing. Why did all those people need to die in the first place? How do we begin to understand what an appropriate punishment for such a crime should be? Why do we continue to face these types of tragedies, whether intimately affected or just reading about them online somewhere? What I do hope comes from this is that some people somewhere are getting comfort or closure from the court’s ruling — whether I come to agree with the executions or not. More aptly, I truly hope that terrorism does not show its ugly face in Bali, Indonesia or anywhere else again.

But, we all hope for that, don’t we?

I leave you with this song…  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeQD_SwF54I

Julie

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One thought on “On the Tsunami, the death penalty, and other thoughts…

  1. Pingback: Highlights from the week of TheYogaOfMe Blog week 1 | theyogaofme

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