Friday, October 1, 2010

Letters to and from the not yet dead

There was a story in the news today about a man that was stranded in Joshua Tree National Park without food or water.  He wrote notes to his family, believing that he would die and he wanted to communicate with those he loved.  It got me thinking.  I contacted a man who knew he was going to die for my thesis because he knew the actual date and time.  It wasn't a terminal diagnosis that could last months or maybe years.  There was a timeline attached to his life.  Because of that ticking clock, he answered my questions about his impending death.  That experience changed my life.

Currently, I am communicating with another man on death row.  I'm not doing it for this project, but because I was asked to by the man's spiritual adviser.  I was hesitant at first because the man's crime scared me, whereas Khristian Oliver didn't.  But, I wanted to "be the change I wanted to see in the world."  Regardless of what this man did, he is still a human being.  He does not deserve to be treated like an animal.  If we want people to change their ways for the better, it helps to treat them like a human being first.  Most people live up to the expectations of others.  If you are constantly reminded of how bad you are, what's the point in trying to change your ways?  What if it didn't matter?  What if there was an expiration date tattooed on your forehead? 

This man I'm communicating with has chronicled every execution at the prison he is at.  He didn't know all of the men, but he felt it was important that there be some sort of writing about them that didn't involve their crime.  Yes, they've done horrible things, but think about this if you will...

Picture your worst day.  Maybe a day when you yelled at your kids or said something mean and spiteful to your spouse or your best friend or the cashier at the store.  Maybe you did something worse.  Now, imagine that that day will forever be broadcast to everyone you know and that's how you will be remembered.

Kind of sucks, huh?

Ever thought of being a pen pal to a death row inmate? Click Here.

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