I’m putting myself on a limb here because this is a very controversial topic. I wonder if knowing that we are all eternal beings influences opinions out there, but that being said, the jury is still out for me.
Me: So, what about the death penalty and it’s consequences? What do you think about it, Erik?
Erik (sighing): You know, it’s so odd. I think sometimes—and it’s on a rare occasion—
Jamie: He’s standing up; his hands are in his pocket; his thumbs are sticking out. He’s just kind of pacing. He’s really thinking about this one!
Me: Yeah, it’s a tough one. I don’t think anyone should be put to death, but I guess it could be a pre-designed exit point for some. I don’t know.
Erik: Right. It definitely can be a pre-designed exit point that somebody else is to take their life, and so many people put themselves in harm’s way so that happens. It’s the same way, but it’s just done in a little more public way.
Erik: Um, but there are very few cases—there are some—that actually fit the whole definition and lesson and learning and cleansing of having their life taken from them in this way. Over all, no.
Jamie (laughing): Erik!
Erik: Now I do like the idea of an eye for an eye but not so much for death.
Jamie and I laugh.
Jamie: Erik! He’s giving me an example.
Erik: I feel if some woman was raped, I think we need to bring in some big ol’ guy to rape the rapist.
Me: I can just hear it. “You gon be my bitch!”
Erik (laughing): Can you fucking imagine that? How—
Me: Well, that’s not very compassionate, Erik!
Erik: No, that’s not very compassionate. Yeah, maybe the rapist was abused as a kid or something. You never know! Or maybe it was a spiritual contract between the rapist and the woman to, you know, experience that for some reason.
Me: Hm. I don’t know about that.
Erik (belly laughing): I know, Mom, take a joke! Take a joke!
Me: Ha. Ha.
All three of us laugh.
Erik: No, I totally agree with you, but, um, going back to the death penalty, there are those small cases, but honestly, I think the better way to handle it all—death is such a release, keeping them alive is more of a punishment.
Me: Oh, yeah.
Erik: And for the jail structures, great. Someone came up with, you know, a thousand years ago, how to lock someone away as a punishment, but what you really need to be teaching them is how to make a community. You know, we should lock them together as a community—
Me: So they can teach each other?
Erik: Correct. The more dangerous ones can be in a more solitary environment, but the others, we have to reform them; we have to teach them even the simplest things like how to respect their linens and make their beds, how to take pride in the small things they’ve done and what they’ve learned from it.
Erik: And if they earn a larger amount of freedom, then they move into a different part of the community so that they interfere with others or evoke jealousy. Again, another opportunity to learn.
Me: It just seems like an awful lot of responsibility to give the collective to actually put somebody down, to kill somebody just so that person can have their exit point, oof, you know? That would be a sacrifice on the side of the executioner or the system overall.
Erik: And there’s a lot of narcissistic people who want their names in the paper, who want people watching them when they pass away! It’s just the saddest thing, really. It’s messed up.