Monday, December 05, 2005

Another View of Murder

If there really is no death--and we'll get into that in a minute--how does that affect murder?

First off, here's the murder story. Some guy killed his kids. Blah, blah, blah. For the purpose of my exploration here, the details are not all that important. The article acts as a background piece. You read murder stories all the time, right? While each individual case has its own claim to fame, and stakes its own territory in the trappings of tragedy, it's all pretty much the same show.

So I want to explore what might happen if we the people, in order to form a more perfect union, decided to consider the possibility that there is no death--that there is transformation and not termination.

Some of you might go bonkers with that suggestion. I like to play "what if?" games and explore good ideas even if I cannot prove them. I know enough people who have personally experienced clinical death and been revived--and have great things to say about the experience--to seriously consider the possibility that death of the body does not mean death of consciousness.

In other words, the crime of murder may truly be limited to destroying someone's physical body. And I wonder how that would affect the mind of murderers and potentiual murderers if they knew that and if it were true.

Could it be more persuasive than capitall punishment?

Imagine if you will what it would be like to be this guy in the newspaper piece who killed his kids. To his mind, he killed their bodies so he killed them, because that's how most people think. That's how the news reports it. That's how the law sees it. That's how medicine views it. But what if there's more to that picture?

Religion often has this way of saying that when you die, you're in God's hands now. You're off the clock. You've disappeared through the black hole and you don't really exist anymore even though you're with God. It's this going through the black hole idea that seems to keep us from acknowledging a continuing existence of spirits.

Well, if a great deal of society believes that when you're dead you're gone, either to the great void or to some heavenly afterlife, one would assume that murderers think that way, too. Out of sight, out of mind. Bang, bang, you're oblvion.

But what if a society integrated what the near-death experiencers are saying--that there's a whole bunch of life going on in the universe including a whole series of natural laws of cause and effect? What if our society was much more conscious of the idea that people who die don't die, they transform? What if the kids who the man thought he killed are watching him this very second? What if he came to suspect that at some point, he would have to face his children again in a form that he could not obliterate as easily as people obliterate flesh?

You may not believe in any sort of afterlife, but one thing to consider is that if we keep alive the massive cloaking device that says that death is the ultimate end, it automagically provides a killer with a promise that death will terminate his consciousness. This is the same hope that people who commit suicide are banking on--the ultimate off button. Our society makes death the scary story, when the scary story should be, if you inflict pain on others, that life goes on and you can't escape life. If you do bad things you have to be accountable for them, not by some heavenly judiciary, but by your higher self that is personally monitoring your progress through Earth School.

That may be very far-fetched for some of you, but I contend that before you make your judgment you sit down and have a long chat with a few people who have consciously and spontaneously left their bodies during a traumatic episode like a car crash or a rafting accident or an involuntary electrocution. Or perhaps read something like Lessons from the Light by Kenneth Ring, one of the best of the NDE books by one of the best of the career NDE researchers.

Many NDErs who have life reviews during their experience say that they had to "endure" feeling everything good and bad that they caused others to feel. Further they feel everything that anyone else felt down a chain of experience. If you beat up someone and out of frustration that someone kicks the dog, during your life review you would feel yourself beating up the person--and feel what the person felt being beaten up--and feel the pain of the dog getting kicked, and so on.

So whether or not you believe it, the possibility exists through a growing amount of anecdotal accounts that the universe has a grand and glorious justice system built-in that we don't pay much attention to just yet. And the possibility exists that murderers will one day stand before the people they murdered.

But of course this brings up another issue: if murderers face the victims they murdered, is murder as bad as we have been led to believe? Clealry murder is wrong; that is not even in question here. But society has a great love for tellling scary stories about how horrible murder is, and I wonder if in the great big picture beyond our mortality if it is literally much worse than actors playing a role of someone who dies in a movie. People who have had NDEs in car crashes consistently say that they are out of their bodies in no time, not feeling pain. (Many experience excruciating pain when they have to come back to their flesh bodies.) So while murder often appears brutal and bloody and nothing short of awful, that may mostly be an illusion we create through our obsession with scary stories.

If life is all there is, if there is no death, then murder is just a ticket to another world, and it may not be a bad ride at alll. So while an earthbound murderer may have visions of being tortured in some hellish afterlife, and while the press may be having a field day writing about all the misery that was caused, the victims may be snacking on cosmic cupcakes and have no ill will at all. "Didn't feel a thing and the food here is great!"

I know that this may sound flip to any of you who have had personal tragedies in your life. This is just my attempt to figure out the big picture of life here, and I would truly like to know that murder victims went quickly, painlessly, and are enjoying themselves in another place. I get weary of all the dramatizing that our society, especially local news, puts on murder victims. It’s all speculation. And as I said, I know people who have been to another world before coming back to this one.

For the most part I think that death is portrayed as one of the great out clauses in our land, and one of the great deterrents would be knowing that murder gets you in a lot more trouble than mere lethal injection.

It’s also worth pointing out that it’s almost universal among near-death experiencers that suicide is not an answer, either. Those whose NDE came as a result of a suicide attempt are particularly vehement about this point. You don’t end up in oblivion and you may have to experience up close and personal all the pain you caused when you took your life. Rather than solving problems with sweet eternal rest, you end up having destroyed your body, feeling all the pain you felt before, and then have the added burdens of that mess.

I think a re-design in the popular usage of homicide, suicide, and capital punishment would be another giant leap for mankind.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Same Memo, Different Views

One of the great things about the Internet is the profusion of source material. On any given story, a search engine-enabled news reader can choose differentg sources for the same sgtory. This often gives a semantic glimpse into spin on a story.

Commenting on the story about the political war between the State of Louisiana and the Feds, stories told of the memos being fired all over the universe. It's interesting to see how the different organizations portrayed one such memo.


For the state's part, Blanco's chief of staff Andy Kopplin e-mailed employees September 4 saying they needed to get national supporters to say "that the federal response was anemic" and asked them to point out budget cuts to levee programs.

In the New York Times:

"We need to keep working to get our national surrogates to explain the facts - that the federal response was anemic and had been shortchanged by budget cuts and avoiding responsibilities like protecting Louisiana levees and wetlands," Mr. Kopplin wrote in one e-mail message a week after the storm hit.

To me, the CNN version seemed to imply a creepier Kopplin who seemed more into manipulating the press. The NY Times version seems more like a frustrated public servant.

I don't have time to expand this idea, so I'll just post this. Maybe someone else can run with it, like a college kid looking for a goood term paper subject.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Semantics of Reporting Executions

Partially I have been looking at stories of executions because they are there. In our numbers-loving, milestone-loving country, we are approaching the 1000th Execution since the death poenalty was re-instituted in the US.

Partially I have been reading accounts of executions and Death Row activities because one of the characters in one of the novels I am working on is a convicted murderer.

Something I would like to see attention drawn to is how the news media with its semantics builds realities that may not be true. In the story of Kenneth Lee Boyd (see previous link), the lead paragraph says: "A man who killed his wife and father-in-law pinned his hopes on last-minute intervention from the governor or the courts as he awaited lethal injection early Friday in the nation's 1,000th execution since capital punishment resumed in 1977."

Pinned his hopes?

How does anybody know that? Makes it sound like he's desperate. How do we or the reporters know that he'd just as soon get it over with and die?

This to me is how the news dramatizes things. We have this assumption that people on Death Row are terrified of dying. I guess we need to have that to help justify why we are killing them. If we keep calling it the "ultimate penalty" (similar to "the ultimate sacrifice" in warfare) then we can keep the whole processs going. We give the illusion of diabolical punishment to the crooks who did the bad deeds way back when.

Prison doesn't look like much fun to me. I could really be missing something here, but if I had to face the rest of my life in Shawshank or get a nice ride out on lethal injection, I suspect I'd choose the latter.

We seem to think that all convicted murderers want to live. But there are different ways of looking at things, as is true for any terrorist who blows him or herself up in a holy war. They're thinking eternal reward somewhere else. My point is not that convicted murderers think they're going to be rewarded anywhere, but they most likely don't share the same outlook on life as do the people who want to see the murderer gonzo.

They may see execution as government-assisted suicide.

Or then there's this story about the once-"normal" Belgian girl who grew up to be a suicide bomber in Iraq. Not everybody plays by the same paradigm.

I am not saying that convicted murderes truly want to die; I am mostly just commenting on how news reporters characterize these people. I suspect thaqt those who did commit the crimes may be quite afraid of what happens after death. If they are worried about punishment above (or below) and beyond the court system, they might want to put off their reckoning as long as possible.