Monday, March 29, 2010

Death Penalty Witness

L to R: Dave and Frank downtown on Fridays.

The death penalty is no laughing matter, but it is easy to trade a few smiles while holding a sign on the witness line.

I often struggle with the effectiveness of such a vigil. However, we are standing right outside of the State Capitol building as well as the offices of the Governor and numerous other government personnel. Lawyers, street vendors, judges, beggars, senators & representatives, students, bus riders, office workers of all types, tourists and others walk and drive past us every Friday. It is important that they realize there are people out there who are opposed to the death penalty. We are a visual reminder to them that folks care about this. We are a support to others who want to take a similar stand. We are a healthy challenge to those who don't.

As Daniel Berrigan and numerous other peacemakers have said, we are called to be faithful, not effective. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't take reasonable steps to be effective, either. Some folks scatter seeds in the wind, but a wise farmer will cultivate organized rows. The important thing is not to get too hung up on the results of our action, because we may never see them.

Standing the heart of downtown as folks mill around on their lunch hour is a good time and place to be doing this. I'd love to see the vigils expanded. Wouldn't it be great if folks were holding a sign at that very place five days each week? What if a rotation of people were doing this all day long? What if we had people all up and down the street in multiple locations? Folks would really take notice.

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