No matter where we live or what our stage in life, all of us have a common problem: our world is broken. It’s easy to name the multiple ills that seem to overwhelm our 21st century earthbound reality. Just a small list will suffice here – poverty, war, hunger, racism, disease. Yes, there are ample reasons to declare: life sucks.
As individuals, we’re also broken. We muddle through life in the midst of our brokenness. Thankfully, the grace of God is available to redeem us from the despair and despond. That is superb Good News! No matter how broken we are, because Christ died for us, we’re not without hope.
No one knows how many people across the world suffer from soul-killing hopelessness that mars their lives, almost from the moment of birth. (I suspect that number is staggering beyond belief.) My high school teacher used the phrase, man’s inhumanity to man, but whether it’s a tyrannical government or a caregiver being abusive and cruel, we know there’s suffering over which we’re unable to exert even the most minimal control.
A Crime Against Humanity
Recent events drew (for me, anyway) man’s inhumanity to man into striking focus. Within the last two weeks, numerous headlines zoomed in on the United States federal government’s action to “execute the first woman in nearly 70 years.” The woman had been duly convicted of what was characterized as the “especially heinous, cruel, and depraved” strangulation murder of a pregnant Missouri woman and then cutting the child from the dead woman’s womb.
I recall when this chilling crime took place in December 2004. My own daughter was pregnant at the time, so my imagination ran amok!
By all accounts, the perpetrator was a troubled woman who had endured a lifetime of misery – at the hands of her mother, her father, her stepfather, at least several repairmen who came to her mother’s house and eventually at the hands of her two spouses. Misery multiplied and multiplied again. The extent of her torment is vividly documented (across various news and commentary sources online). In reading some of these reports, I can’t imagine the depth of her pain and mental anguish.
Suffering In Life and Death
Lest there be any misunderstanding, my opinions on the death penalty are irrelevant here. What I know is several of the news sources indicated the death sentence the convicted murderer received (carried out on January 13, 2021) was excessive, especially because this woman had suffered so unjustly during her life.
Thinking through this situation, I began pondering how I’d respond to my own impending execution. I don’t know what it’s like to spend many years in prison. Perhaps in this woman’s case the day of her execution brought relief, a welcome end of this life’s awful afflictions. The idea of a last wish caused me to consider how I might respond, and thus, the sonnet below.
My reflections on this woman’s unfortunate life and death necessitate additional comments. She is said to have endured more mistreatment because she was poorly represented by legal counsel. (Several reports maintain her defense attorney was unprepared and incompetent.) Others note a level of serious mental illness and brain damage might have mitigated her execution.
I’m in no position to dispute the assertions of such reports. People talk about “extenuating circumstances,” often as a means for excusing unacceptable behavior or misdeeds. Considerable sympathy has been generated for an executed woman who (while suffering greatly in this world) committed murder of a 23-year-old woman who offered friendship. It was in truth an especially heinous act.
Legit Media or Scurrilous Birdcage Liner?
Finally, I was particularly appalled by the headline I’ve screen-captured and included below. The UK’s publication, The Guardian, has a curious (and purposeful) way of describing the convicted murderer’s execution.
Never part of former President Trump’s fan base, The Guardian (in its inimitable fashion) shamelessly tars the president as “rushing to execute.” This is laughable, an egregious smear! I don’t care how much this British paper despises President Trump, they should be aware the murderer was judged guilty by a jury of her peers … and they recommended the penalty of death. The decision was rendered long before President Trump held office. Rushing to execute, indeed!
I was curious to see what coverage this purported news outlet had devoted to stories about the murdered woman, so I searched their website. They provided the name and age of the murder victim a couple times, but few details that would be considered biographical. In stark contrast, The Guardian reported more than a couple times in sympathetic terms about the murderer, especially her unique status as “the first female set to be executed by the US government in almost 70 years.” Tut-tut, those Americans are such brutes.
I’m thankful to note another British outlet, The Sun, found the victim worthy of their coverage in a couple stories. My main objection was their use of the description, Womb Raider, for the murderer.
This account of extreme brokenness has concluded for both the murderer and her unsuspecting victim. The child ripped from her mother’s womb is now 16. I pray she is blessed in this life and thankful everyday for God’s majesty and grace.