Occasionally I Contemplate Murder 12
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ome kinds of suicide I find very sympathetic.
I heard that in the city of Gothenburg, at the southwest of Sweden, there is one method of voluntary passing on, which is incomparably the most popular. Gothenburg is a town of industry and shipping, not altogether unlike such places as Detroit of the USA and Liverpool in England.
This is the favorite type suicide of its male inhabitants:
When leaving home in the morning, the suicidal brings the hose of his vacuum cleaner. After work, he buys the evening paper as usual, and parks his car in some peaceful roadside out by the woods.
He attaches one end of the hose to the exhaust-pipe and leads the other into a side window of the car. Then he relaxes on the driver's seat, the auto motor running, reads the paper and slowly suffocates.
It's very neat, is it not? Neat and clean.
Will the kind of Jesus appreciate the suicidal's consideration towards his posterity? Let's hope so.
Every suicide, though, as well as every murder, leaves a bitter taste in the mouths and guts of those left behind. Frustration. Death cannot be undone.
It's absolute. There we stand, all of us remaining, and can do nothing.
Nothing but pray - the very liturgy of the helpless. Pray for the departed one's happy arrival to the beyond, and pray for the rest of us to come to peace with the loss.
It's not only the kind of Jesus who accuses the suicidal. Posterity does, too.
Somehow, I have the impression that we'd like to accuse also those dead by the hands of others. Yes, even to those who died of what is, somewhat inadequately, called the hand of fate, we wish to cry out:
How could you!
In whatever appearance, we do regard death as a crime, don't we?
hat does, of course, make the death penalty a striking paradox. Punishing a crime with the most severe of crimes. It's rather absurd, proving again that we tend to regard ourselves as Gods.
It's an obvious oddity, when the penalty is executed on a convicted murderer. To kill the murderer, thereby punishing the criminal by repeating his crime, can that be really justified?
And is such a death at all a penalty?
What if there is such a thing as a glorious beyond? We know that life here on earth - especially for the murderer - can become quite trying. Executing him may act as a quick relief.
Before the kind of Jesus, he will certainly be accused for his taking of a life, but must he not be shown some mercy, because he was in his turn robbed of his life? Maybe that evens up his heavenly accounts.
I'm sure that is in no way the intention of our judicial system.
When a man commits murder, it's always regarded as a horrible crime. When society, the collective apparatus of man does, it's called justice. I wonder, will the kind of Jesus agree?
Does he exclude this organized form of taking of lives from his category of no-no's?
If he doesn't, there will be a lot of people having a lot of explaining to do, when the time comes for that ultimate review.
There's a number of professions involved in the execution, participating more or less directly in it. I guess that the kind of Jesus doesn't slap only the hand that turned on the electricity, or pulled the trigger, or released the blade.
Or does he?
If not, things can become rather difficult. It doesn't take a superhuman stretch of the imagination to regard any one of a country's inhabitants, who doesn't protest against death penalty, as partly guilty of every execution.
The laws of man, tending to be more severe than we're led to believe that the divine ones are, would surely come to that conclusion. The divine perspective - being a bit more complex, one must admit, and having a lot more information to consider - might see it differently.
Perhaps, in such a view, there's only one guilty, only one utterly responsible:
His is, after all, the very hand without which there would be no officially inflicted murder. Who else, in this network of accomplices, is equally indispensable?
High authorities may decree this and that, the most impressive congregation of noblemen and sages may reach a most convincing verdict - without someone to perform the punishment, nothing will happen.
Without the executioner there can be no execution, unless every condemned is as noble as ancient time Socrates, voluntarily emptying the cup of poison - whether or not he agrees with the judgement.
The samurais of old Japan often showed the same twisted self discipline in 'seppuku', their ritual disembowelment. An obedient suicide.
Yet, their chosen method of departure was making a mess that could be meant as some criticism of the system. Watch me die, and think of it!
Society can afford many such mild rebellions.
Anyway, this questionable heroism is rare. It takes an executioner to have others than the noblest among us leave this world upon command.
Without the acting force of the executioner, the death penalty is no penalty at all. No judge would be satisfied to pass the sentence of:
o, the executioner is the force demanded by any court. He is the murderer of the murderer.
If he's not to argue for the court's wisdom being of a divine nature, and therefore of divine rights - then his sole defense is one, by which many questionable deeds have been and will be executed:
"I was only doing my job."
Such an argument will hardly suffice in front of the very makers of the rules of life and death, namely the very makers of life and death.
He did his job, all right - but did he have to? There are other jobs.
Even if there are not, he would, in the eyes of the divine, do better to starve. By that, he'd deserve pie in the sky when he died.
Is he not prepared to suffer the tough earthly consequences - then he must prepare for the consequences in the beyond.
Let's say that the executioner is the only person the Gods find guilty, and let's say - which I sincerely doubt - that the killing of some antisocial individuals is essential to the well-being of all others.
I do doubt it. I mean - would the Gods create a world where it is necessary to break their prime rule?
Anyway, let's say, for the sake of argument, that this is the case.
Then the executioner becomes a voluntary banned in the beyond, and therefore, by this formidable sacrifice, a veritable saint on earth. Hero among the living, and foe ever after.
Did he make a good bargain?
In truth, we human beings are so attached to each other, so passionately linked to our species, that most of us would gladly make the sacrifice of the executioner. To aid one's fellow beings, although by that becoming damned for eternity - what martyrdom can be grander?
So much easier, is it not, to let oneself suffer every possible malice on earth, for what little time it lasts, when confident of praise in the eternity waiting up there.
People who believe in the hereafter usually prepare for a pleasant stay in it. People who don't, they make the very most of what earthbound life can offer.
Must not the kind of Jesus find compassion for him, who knowingly deals himself the worst of hands?
They say that to judge, one needs to know all the circumstances. I'd say that if one does, judging may very well become impossible.
It surely takes a God to dare it, when considering the whole complexity of the situation. If divinity, though, is any guarantee of the sentence being just - that remains to be seen.
Maybe the kind of Jesus avoids judgement on almost all felonies, not because of compassion, but from a sense of incompetence.
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Occasionally I Contemplate Murder
by Stefan Stenudd 2006, 2011
Paperback, 124 pages
The same book in Swedish
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