March 29, 2011

Be not too eager to deal out death

I've recently re-read the Lord of the Rings cycle and this time around I've made notes on parts that seem relevant to working for social justice. Here's installment #2.

During the recent unlamented session of the WV legislature, there was a public hearing on bringing back the death penalty to the state, which hasn't had one since the early 1960s. I was one of the people who testified against it. All through my mind when I was on the stand, a passage from LOTR went through my mind.

When discussing the creature Gollum, Frodo the hobbit casually states that the creature deserves to die. Gandalf replies,

Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.

I didn't go there since I figured quoting from a fictional wizard wouldn't exactly help my case. Instead, I focused on examples of fallible judgements. But I think Gandalf probably said it best.

THIS IS JUST GREAT, HE WROTE, IRONICALLY. GE, after making over $14 billion in profits and paying ZERO dollars in US income tax, is asking workers to make concessions.

THAT'S NOT ALL. GE isn't the only corporation to pay no taxes at a time when public services are being slashed.

GANDHI. A new biography will bust some bubbles. I'll stick to FDR and Walter Reuther.

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING, the most common modern psychosis is the persecution complex. Or that's what they want you to believe anyway, just to lull you into a false sense of security so they can really get you.


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