Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Buddhist Peace Fellowship, on Tookie

Here is what BPF staff person Alan Senauke said at the vigil, outside San Quentin. I think it's the best words I've heard on the subject.

For Stanley Tookie Williams & Ourselves
The hour is late. All the arguments have been made. They have fallen on deaf ears. So lets just take a few moments to breathe together in silence and mindfulness.

This air we are breathing now is the same air that Tookie is breathing in his remaining minutes of life; that Governor Schwarzenegger is breathing; that the guards and reporters and witness outside the death chamber are breathing. This very air was once breathed by Albert Owens, Tsai-Shai Yang, Yen-I Yang, and Yee Chen Lin whose deaths Tookie is being executed for. Tonight their family and friends also breathe with us. All living beings are doing so at this very moment. There is one single fabric of breath and starlight. And there are holes in this fabric for every being who dies by violence. We hold all these beings in our hearts and we grieve for each of them.

We have been out here together at San Quentin for too many such nights. The state of California has many more in mind. I want to wake up from this bad dream of these execution nights. The Buddha, like all the great spiritual teachers Jesus, Mohammed, the Hebrew prophets, Gandhi tells us that violence only begets violence. The logic of cause and effect, karma and its fruit, is inescapable even when you dress it up in the emperors new clothes of retributive justice. Like many around the world, I can't see Tookies execution as justice. I see it as the enactment of a cruel and primitive urge for vengeance, elevated to an ersatz social principle. If this is the spiritual state of 21st Century America, then our true grief should be for ourselves. Let us share another moment of silence together.

And when we have grieved enough, let us organize and join the rest of the civilized world in ending the self-defeating barbarism of capital punishment. Let us enact a policy of kindness and compassion. Let us work for a justice system based on restoration and redemption, not on retribution. Too many have suffered and too many have died. Their deaths, and Tookie's death bring us not a moment of peace.

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