Mcveigh Cannot Have The Last Word


I was intrigued by Friday's "Our View" about McVeigh.

"One still can't help but wonder if the ancient philosophy of an eye for an eye is all that wise; it makes as little common sense as hollering 'lets murder the murderer.'"

The reports on June 11 of Timothy McVeigh's execution, as your article predicted, caused us all to "pray that everyone in this grief-stricken mass finds something resembling closure."

President Bush spoke only 90 minutes after the execution; "Final punishment of the guilty cannot alone bring peace to the innocent. It cannot recover the loss or balance the scales and it is not meant to do so. Today every living person who was hurt by the evil done in Oklahoma City can rest in the knowledge that there has been a reckoning."

But can we rest in this knowledge? We all watched as our TV screens gave us a glimpse of the sorrow that still lingers at the national memorial site at the Federal building where 168 people died along with the three unborn babies that remain unmentioned by the media.

McVeigh's last statement was a hand written copy of a 19th century poem which, ironically, is an ode to strength in the face of suffering. This marked the final chapter in his life. But what about us? What have we learned?

I am a mother of a 17-year-old son who was killed by a drug addict. I have been a victim of domestic violence. I have given a lot of thought to this "eye for an eye" mentality. I am also a registered nurse who has worked for many years in ER. I have seen, in very intimate detail, the violence we inflict on each other.

We rationalize what we do in anger, it seems, all too easily. If you have worked as long as I have with the aftermath of gang violence, domestic violence and random street violence, you come to know that retaliation is just another ugly part of the picture. Our courts are filled with cases of people who felt justified in doing unto others what they truly believed they deserved.

Wars have been the gift that keeps on giving from generation to generation. McVeigh justified murder, in his sick mind, as payback for Waco, Texas. Teenagers at Columbine felt righteous in killing their own classmates because they saw themselves as victims.

What if "an eye for an eye" doesn't really solve any problems at all? Haven't we become more evolved since this ancient philosophy began? What if it's as simple as those message that we are giving our children every day. Do we forgive our neighbors? Do we encourage gossip at work? Do we judge other people's lifestyles because they are different than our own? How do we solve our own differences with each other?

People like McVeigh cannot have the last word here. The poem he left us with ("Invictous" by William Ernest Henley) was never his to give. "It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishment the scroll. I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul."

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