I don’t remember many of the prominent news stories of my childhood. I didn’t grow up in the age of the first moonwalk or Kennedy being shot – news that impacted the minds of a generation. I remember the Bicentennial. It was huge in 1988 and we all received medallions at school. It was more like a school event that the rest of the country decided to be involved in as well.
There is one news story that I do remember and, like the moonwalk or Kennedy’s assassination, it had a profound impact on my thinking. It was the case of Barlow and Chambers who were sentenced to hanging in Malaysia for heroin trafficking in 1986. Today, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran face a similar future in Indonesia if mercy is not granted.
I’m trying to remember my 12 year old self. It’s pretty confronting as there is a 12 year old girl living in my house. She’s opinionated, she’s loud and she’s not shy. I spend most days convincing myself that I wasn’t like that. People who know me spend most days laughing at my delusion.
What did I think at 12? How did I feel about two men being hung for the crimes they had committed? I doubt that I will ever remember my initial thoughts and feelings. However, I do know which arguments influenced my thinking and made me the product that I am today.
I do not agree with the death penalty. I believe that it is wrong, that it is not our place to take the life of another. I believe that two wrongs do not make a right. Murder should not be punished with murder. I am proud of the fact that I live in a country that abolished the death penalty. I believe it is a standard that other nations should follow. In recent days I have come to realise that there is an hypocrisy in my stance and the fate of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran has shone a glaring light upon it.
If you read the comments beneath any article in recent weeks on this topic there will be those who advocate mercy and there will be comments made that echo the feelings deep within me. These men knew what ALL Australians know. If you take drugs into Asia you will be gaoled and you will face the death penalty. Everyone of us who grew up in the 80’s knows. It’s one of those things that falls under the heading “It’s Not Rocket Science.” We grew up understanding that we needed to respect the laws of other nations. We may not punish with death but others do. If you do something stupid such as smuggling drugs, you will be caught, you deserve to be caught, and you will die for your crime.
And I was ok with that.
This week I have been forced to face the hypocrisy within myself. My two selves have faced off one against the other. The Kim who believes in life. The Kim who believes in forgiveness. The Kim who believes that lives can be turned around. The Kim who believes in others. The Kim who is against the destruction of life in all its forms.
The Kim who believes that all sin is equal and we are all sinners in the eyes of God.
She has been up against Kim the Hard Liner. The Kim who believes in reaping the seeds that you have sown. She may have some compassion however, she’ll tell you, at the end of the day, you knew. You knew the consequences and you decided to go ahead anyway. It’s time to pay the piper.
I have watched and read and read again. The interviews detailing lives transformed have not moved me as much as I would like to think. In owning up to my hypocrisy it is very tempting to replace it with more. I do continue to struggle with clemency based on changes after the fact. I understand that Andrew and Myuran are having a profound affect for good in the lives of those around them. That’s great … but … you knew the consequences. Why should Indonesia’s policies and practices change because of the changes that have occurred within you?
And this is the crux and what I need to remind myself. I don’t agree with the death penalty. Period. That is why I would argue against it ever being reinstated and for its abolition. I believe in life. I don’t believe in an eye for an eye. I believe in grace. In redemption. I believe that judgement belongs to God.
I believe that Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran deserve mercy because I believe in life that gives people a hope and a future.
Visit mercycampaign.org for more information.