It strikes me that several times the news this week has demonstrated the lack of compassion in us humans either collectively or as a group towards individuals.
The release of the terminally ill great train robber Ronnie Biggs prompted headlines in the UK press “Death ‘in days’ fear for Biggs” (Sun 29 July 2009) after the Home Secretary changed his mind and agreed he could be released. The general secretary of the train drivers union Aslef, quoted in the Times as saying “It’s ludicrous that a man who was part of a gang that committed a violent crime, and attacked an innocent man and hit him with an iron bar, should be a person who deserves clemency.” In this statement we have not one person, not two, but an organisation representing thousand of members saying Mr Biggs should die in prison for his crimes. Ronnie Biggs’s crime was committed in a way that shocked the nation at the time in the same way I remember my parents being shocked by other atrocities at the time that now pale in comparison to for example, the recent baby P case.
The predicted release of the Libyan bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi , jailed in Europe for his role in the Lockerbie bombing and suffering from terminal cancer has provoked similar outrage and demands that he die in jail for his crimes.
These people, in their last days or months should be allowed to spend their time with their loved ones. Nothing is served by their continued detention and death in incarceration except perhaps a more miserable decline to their inevitable death. To insist that this happens appears to be mean and vindictive .
I like this quote from Buddhanet .
“ It is compassion that removes the heavy bar, opens the door to free-dom, makes the narrow heart as wide as the world. Compassion takes away from the heart the inert weight, the paralysing heaviness; it gives wings to those who cling to the lowlands of self.
Through compassion the fact of suffering remains vividly present to our mind, even at times when we personally are free from it. It gives us the rich experience of suffering, thus strengthening us to meet it prepared, when it does befall us.
Compassion reconciles us to our own destiny by showing us the life of others, often much harder than ours.”
I struggle to put into words how I feel about it because it forces me to think about the feelings of people affected by crimes. I have not experienced such things so who am I to say they are wrong or deluded in their apparent insistence on the continued suffering of these unfortunate people?
Fortunately yesterday Barbara O’Brien posted an article that does what I am failing to do; sum it up. Read it here and thank you for listening.