"Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, but it is the only answer."--Dorothy Day


Were You There?


I am vehemently opposed to the death penalty. When I was in college I worked for The Daily Texan, the UT newspaper, as a copyeditor. This meant that I had to stay to the bitter end to check the final proofs of the newspaper. In Texas the death penalty is a huge deal. They kill more people than many states combined. One night in particular, there was an execution scheduled--the execution of a man named Gary Graham. I spent the whole night, about 8 hours total, watching this story unfold and reading about it over and over and over again. If anyone with any respect for human life had been involved in Texas government, that execution would have been stayed. But we had no one. Evidence was entirely circumstantial, and much of it had been called into question during the 17 years this man had been awaiting his execution. But they still saw fit to end his life. Since that night it has been one of my major issues.

Growing up in the Church of Christ, and I think this is true of many Christian denominations, I was taught that being a baptized, forgiven believer gave me a role in the Crucifixion. That role was that of a member of the jeering crowds. This bothers me a great deal. I think about myself transported to the time of Jesus' life. I am in Jerusalem during what is now considered Holy Week. I witness Jesus riding into town on the back of a colt and wave palm fronds to welcome my King. I hear about this amazing man, who has done and said amazing and unbelievable things. And then I hear that he has been arrested and will be killed in the morning. My friends and neighbors are intrigued, and uninvested, and go to the town square to see the events unfold. We are given the chance to set him free. But instead we loose a criminal. And we leave this man to die. I cannot imagine my transported self being there and not being mortified at what is transpiring before me.

I know that this is the easy way out. No one wants to feel that they are responsible for the Crucifixion. But my feeling is that we were all there, and we were all delivered by this unselfish act, but maybe there's a possibility that we were not part of the jeering crowds. Maybe I was Veronica, who met Jesus on the road as he carried the cross and wiped his brow. Or Mary Magdelene, distraught at the loss of her dear friend and teacher, in no way able to grasp the greater things at hand. Or Pontious Pilot, struggling with the fact that he could have done something to stop this, but instead bowed to the will of the crowd.


Rendering Aid.

So I'm on the train this afternoon, going to my office. And all of the sudden, there's this guy lying on the floor of the train. I see the conductor walk up to him and shake him. "Wake up! Wake up!" he said. But nothing. I'm starting to get a little freaked out. As I always assume the worst, I think he's probably dead. But I try not to get involved. I look around the train to see if anyone else has seen this, and no one is moved. There's a guy sitting directly across from me who is wearing scrubs. I'm thinking "Maybe he's a doctor. Maybe he'll render aid." My friend who is a murse (male nurse, not man purse) and I were traveling back from Connecticut a couple of years ago and there was a sick woman on the train. I woke him up and made him render aid. And I know, we really all just want to travel to our jobs with no hassle, and maybe this guy was a dental hygenist, but he did nothing. Just sat there all exasperated looking at his watch, hoping for the train to continue moving. It's at this point that I go from freaked out to amused. No one is reacting at all. The train conductor has just left the guy there on the floor. He rocks back and forth as the train moves along. And we're on a really long stretch, between 59th Street and 125th, so it seems fairly interminable. This explains how I've gone through the entire range of emotion. So we stop at 125th. Everyone seems to think "Oh there's nothing wrong with him. Just let him sleep it off." But the NYPD is called in. The NYPD come in and shake the guy and he does not move. I think "He's so dead. D-E-D, dead." And then I didn't see what they did, but he woke up. It is my wish that they held his nose until he got up. In my head where everything is either melodrama or comedy, this is the only logical action. It is here that my story ends as I switched trains during the drama, but I've been thinking about this all day.

Imagine if this had happened any place other than NYC. You're walking down the street and someone passes out. I'm imagining this in Texas, so a woman with big hair and floral capris rushes over. "I'm a nurse, honey. Don't worry. You're gonna be okay." And she begins to render aid. Her husband, khaki shorts, sandles and black socks, calls 9-1-1. A crowd gathers around. "Give him some room. Will ya'll please back up?" but still said politely. And the ambulance arrives within five minutes. The poor gentleman is taken to the nearest hospital where he is treated and released.

But not here. The guy today was probably shaken for a while longer, yelled at and taken off the train. We live in a world here where crazy stuff happens so often that we begin to not even notice it. Lady changing clothes in the street...normal. Man with large snake rapped around him...normal. Guy walking toward you, nowhere near a hospital, wearing only a hospital gown...normal. Naked cowboy...famous. It generally takes a really, really, horrendous smell or flames for anyone to even look up from what their doing. And even then we are not concerned, but merely annoyed.


Quiz Your Friends.

Take my quiz. I promise it's fun.

All About Kc.

P.S.--I was told by Jennifer (see comments) that my quiz was too hard. I thought about changing it and even went so far as to begin a new quiz, with more questions, so it won't be so easy to fail, fail, FAIL. But really, it's not about the score. Like one of those hippy schools where there are no grades, it's about the learning, not about arbitrary numbers. Learn away.