Deserve to Live

A couple of months ago, a well-known and admired headmaster at our local high school passed away. He was not very old and died after a rather sudden illness. Although I didn't have him as a teacher when I was a kid, I knew of him. I remember feeling somewhat embarrassed by the fact that he had been one of my mother's pupils, when she had first come to Mölnlycke.

He was the strong, silent kind of leader. One that made you smile. A level 5 leader, using Jim Collins' terminology:

"The term "Level 5" refers to a five-level hierarchy. Level 1 relates to individual capability, Level 2 to team skills, Level 3 to managerial competence, and Level 4 to leadership as traditionally conceived. Level 5 leaders possess the skills of levels 1 to 4 but also have an "extra dimension": a paradoxical blend of personal humility ("I never stopped trying to become qualified for the job") and professional will ("sell the mills"). They are somewhat self-effacing individuals who deflect adulation, yet who have an almost stoic resolve to do absolutely whatever it takes to make the company great, channeling their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It's not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious—but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution and its greatness, not for themselves". From Jim Collins

We sometimes have opinions about who should live longer and who should die sooner. None of the countries in EU practice the capital punishment since it is against the rules for EU membership and the goal is even to achieve a universal abolition. In the whole of Europe only Belarus use it. In the U.S. 32 out of 50 states still practice it. Methods vary by state, federal, and military policy, but include lethal injection, hanging, firing squad, the electric chair, and the gas chamber. This puts the U.S. into the same league as China, Sudan, Afghanistan, Libya, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia. 

There are many very good reasons against the capital punishment. One wrongdoing can not be corrected by another one. There is no such thing as a perfect legal system, why somebody totally innocent may and probably has been executed. Since we don't know what awaits us after death, how can we be sure it is a punishment? Also the capital punishment does not prevent people from committing crimes.

"The death penalty brutalises the people who administer it", James Guthrie, The Death Penalty Project, in an article in Intelligent Life

In the second part of David Edgar's play about the nazi architect Albert Speer (my uncle Henric played Hitler, and had many concerns about that), as I recall it, Speer argues that there is more to a human being than the worst thing he has done in his life. Being Hitler's second in command he narrowly escaped hanging after the Nuremberg trials. Although there is much in the character to loath, I must admit that I agree with him on that. Or, I suppose, I too ask for forgiveness for my wrongdoings and hope that my good deeds count for something.

From Berlin Augusti 2009
"The notion that there is a thing called evil which separates the wicked off from the rest of us is a comforting illusion. The uncomfortable truth is that to understand does involve recognition and even empathy. It does require seeing the world through the eyes of the wicked person, and thus finding those impulses and resentments and fears within ourselves that could - we painfully have to admit - drive us to commit dreadful acts under different circumstances." David Edgar

With the capacity of doing both good and bad things during a life, who can tell what good someone sentenced to death can bring to this world given the chance?

The last Swedish execution took place in 1910, and it has been abolished for peacetime offences since 1921 and for wartime ones since 1973. 

“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” Fyodor Dostoevsky

From Berlin Augusti 2009

No comments: