Monday, January 08, 2007

All Hangings Are Sad


Saddam Hussein’s execution doesn’t have anything to do with Haiti, other than it happened while we were here. And it happened more than a week ago, so it’s old news. After watching news reports of the hanging, John said, “It so sad.”


Who would expect to feel sorrow about the execution of a mass murderer? We don’t really feel pity for Hussein, a pitiless dictator. What’s sad is the deliberate, planned, calculated taking of life. “He was wearing a coat and hat because it was cold," said John. "He was taking care of the fact that he was cold because he’s a human being, and a few minutes later he was going to die.” Doctors, especially, are trained to protect and preserve life.

John’s comment reminded me of a passage from an essay by George Orwell called, “The Hanging.” And then coincidentally, I came upon the passage in notes that I’ve been transcribing. Orwell worked as a police officer in Burma during the reign of the British, and he and other men were escorting a man to the gallows. So I guess this entry is an excuse to quote Orwell, who always has valuable things to say about places where life is hard. Here’s the passage:

“When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. . . his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned—reasoned even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone—one mind less, one world less.”

1 comment:

debbie said...

Maria--I re-read this after reading about Maxime's death and couldn't help but relate the quote at the bottom to Maxime. "the unspeakable wrongness of cutting a life short when it is in full tide" "he and we were a party walking together seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world"

Those of us here need to renew our efforts to help people see the suffering in Haiti so that young people like Maxime will have a future.

We're all in this world to walk together.