May 03, 2016 End capital punishment – “All beings are basically good/ All beings are basically kind/ All beings are basically strong/ All beings are basically wise”
Eighteen people have been executed this year thus far in the United States. That is an average of one weekly. We have no signs that this pace will slow down.
The National Coalition for the Abolition of the Death Penalty’s website does not list scheduled executions beyond May 12, of Earl Forrest (May 11) and Vernon Madison (May 12). With such short advance public announcements, I am bound not to be aware of all the nation’s executions before they take place, unless I refer to the NCADP’s list ever few days.
For instance, I did not know about the April 27 execution of Daniel Anthony Lucas in Georgia until today, through a link from one of my Facebook acquaintances. Mr. Lucas was convicted of a particularly horrid murder, with all murders being horrid. According to WRCB/NBC television’s website, Lucas “was 19 in April 1998 when he and another teen killed 37-year-old Steven Moss, his 11-year-old son Bryan and 15-year-old daughter Kristin, who interrupted a burglary at their home near Macon in central Georgia.”
Some death row inmates might wonder the benefit of self improvement if they are scheduled to be executed. Of course, taken to its conclusion, such an outlook would lead all of us merely to stay in bed all day, because each of one day will pass away. We are not merely individual human beings detached from all other living beings, but all are connected.
Daniel Anthony Lucas, later renamed Jampa Pawo through his practice of Buddhism, improved himself in prison. Within the last few months, he wrote:
“I have committed murder, stolen the property of others, lied to my loved ones, sold and used drugs, and reveled in others of the ten nonvirtues. These sins and the harm I’ve caused others fill me with remorse and sadness. My heart is broken. To heal these wounds I practice to the best of my ability for the people I’ve hurt, for myself, and for all living beings. If I can heal, the other men at this prison can heal, you can heal, and together we can heal society. I am confident that our aspirations can be accomplished through dharma practice.”
“Today I see that being a Shambhala Warrior transcends ego. I feel that I can authentically proclaim my basic goodness and the goodness of all humanity, from this day forward and in all of my future lives. I proclaim myself a Shambhala warrior and vow to establish enlightened society on this earth. As for this life, my appeals are exhausted and the causes of my execution align. I am not afraid. I have faith and confidence in my practice.”
In his final statement, Jampa Pawo said:
“I would like to say I’m sorry to Mrs Moss and the family.”
He said he loves his friends and family, and then recited this prayer: “All beings are basically good. All beings are basically kind. All beings are basically strong. All beings are basically wise.”
Today, I will not go into detail about the reasons Jampa Pawo’s post conviction lawyers raised for commuting his death sentence, other than to quote WRCB’s website: “Lucas’ lawyers argued in a court filing Tuesday that the jury deciding his fate did not hear meaningful evidence about his youth and lack of maturity before sentencing him to die. They argue advances in science and the young adult brain also should be considered.”
Capital punishment is barbaric, no matter how much the convicted murderer reforms, stays the same or gets worse on death row.
“All beings are basically good. All beings are basically kind. All beings are basically strong. All beings are basically wise.” When all of us truly apply goodness, kindness, strength and wisdom, capital punishment will end.