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Standing with my people against the death penalty

I've used up some personal time this week to join the folks gathered down at Moakley Federal Courthouse in the morning to protest the death penalty as the trial enters its final stage.

Massachusetts is not a death penalty state, yet this sentence may well be imposed for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the murder of MIT campus police officer Sean Collier (full disclosure – I work at MIT and pass the exact spot of the murder and the new memorial daily).
 
Some time ago I contacted the Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty to ask if they were planning any vigils against the death penalty being applied in this fraught case. The response I got from their president was that letters to the editor were more important.
 
It seems more and more that many (most?) people avert their gaze, abdicating responsibility for tremendous issues that must be faced to be solved. U.S.-waged perpetual wars cost trillions of dollars while billions of people live without healthcare, clean water, or a basic standard of living. There are more than 50 million refugees in the world - so many of whom are fleeing war zones.  More than a million people have been killed in the war on terror.  
 
Meanwhile the nuclear nightmare that holds humanity hostage continues. Not only are the nuclear nations embarking on a new nuclear arms race, but the atomic clock is at 3 minutes to midnight -- again. And climate chaos looms.  Each day as I walk to the subway and see the homeless men who sleep under the Route 2 Bridge, I wonder how many are veterans of U.S. wars?
 
Last month, while in New York for a family memorial (complete with internecine family squabbling), I was consoled by a photo of the courthouse stand out against the death penalty that miraculously ran in the NYT. I meditated myself into a calm frame of mind for the memorial while sitting on a favorite park bench with the paper open to the photo. 
 
So, when I finally made it to the courthouse to join the vigil, I was not surprised to find that the folks standing out are people I know from the many peace events, marches, and stand outs of the past decades.  Many, even most of them are from Veterans For Peace. 
 
The men come with their flags, t-shirts and hats, identifying themselves clearly as people who know all too well what it is to be in a life-threatening, kill-or-be-killed situation. Not so many of us know this situation out of their direct experience, although some do who are not veterans. 
 
It turns out that as my hair gets ever more gray and my back ever more fragile that it is a ever more a joy of my life to stand with my people who object, dissent and step up to stand out in opposition to murderous government policies – be it inhumane budget priorities that cut vital social programs, the death penalty, or wars. 
 
Standing out is a refusal to relinquish our humanity, an owning of our responsibilities to each other as human beings on this planet and a cri de coeur for a world in which all people have basic needs met, planet earth is protected not imperiled, and life is not an infliction but rather wondrous.  
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