The execution of Troy Davis on September 21 for the murder of police officer Mark McPhail in August of 1989 puts a much needed light on our justice system and our own consciences.
It took me three pregnancies to become pro-life. It was a gradual change of heart that I had with each new child. With the death penalty, I logically understood that pro-life meant just that: all life.
I read Sister Helen Prejean's book "Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty" and I still wasn't convinced. Even the movie (which I thought was very good) still didn't get me quite there.
I don't know when it happened, but when I read about Troy Davis' execution I felt a little sick.
Maybe that's the key here: feeling sick when you hear about an execution or an abortion. Your innards twist a little and you feel slightly queasy.
Then I read the article in Wednesday's Tribune about the white supremacist who was executed for his involvement in the dragging death of a black man in 1998. I immediately felt smug and righteous about this. It was a horrific hate crime. Lawrence Russell Brewer got an easy death compared to what he did to his victim, James Byrd, Jr.
So my innards twisting and feeling queasy were almost immediately replaced with smug and righteous. Why? Death is death. Execution is execution. Isn't it?
But I think it has more to do with our feelings about the condemned. Troy Davis evokes sympathy. If there ever was a doubt about this man's innocence, he should not have been executed, but the system convicted and executed him and his victim's, (Officer Mark MacPhail) family feel that justice was served.
Lawrence Russell Brewer is hardly sympathetic. He is an easy target to hate. He had no last words of remorse. In Troy Davis' last words, he reiterated his innocence and and asked his family to continue to search for the truth.
It is easy to stand for life when that life is an innocent baby. It is easy to stand for life when a mistake may have been made in the justice system. It is much harder to stand for life when that life represents hatred.
Jesus came to change hearts. On this, He'll have to still work on mine.