In recent months, during my visits to parishes, I have been asking parishioners to join me in signing a petition for the aboli- tion of the death penalty. The
petition asks that the death sen- tence, which is prescribed for in the laws of Guyana, be replaced by life imprisonment. It also asks that the prison term be restora- tive rather than punitive and that attention and support be given to families of victims and perpetra- tors. It was good to see so many persons signing on willingly and eagerly, wanting to identify with the contents of the petition. Thank you for your participation.
From a Christian perspective, putting a signature to a petition is not merely about accumulating names and numbers to influence the lawmakers. The Christian, in living her/his vocation, brings the ways of Christ to time and circumstance in such a way to leave the stamp of hope, new life and resurrection. In the case of Capital Punishment the Christian cannot settle for “eye for an eye” (Matt 5:38), life for a life. The knowledge of and commun- ion with our God compels us to protect and nurture life in all states. If we believe that an offender can be reformed, can
have a change of heart, then we must explore every means by which this can come about. This is the way God loved the world; to hope, to believe, to save and not condemn. Our celebration of Easter, our living the resurrection is in seeking every opportunity to celebrate life, protect it where it is threatened and ferret it out when it may have become buried under fear, rejection and pain.
While the petition related to the death penalty speaks directly about the perpetrators, the victims and the immediate fall out of their families it also raises questions. The persons who act violently and commit offenses were born into our families, went to our schools, were part of neighborhoods. Why did they fall through the cracks? Why were there cracks for them to fall through? Living our Easter identity and vocation means responding to these questions and taking initiatives that would help arrest and reverse the trends of decay in our world.
In recent weeks a significant number of persons gathered outside the Min- istry of Education to register their disapproval that Value Added Tax had been applied to education. Among the voices were those who were directly affected and would now have to dig deeper into their pockets in relation to their education or the education of their children. Some present were clear that they were not directly affected but were aware of the impact on others and wanted to show their support - most admi- rable. Others shared some of their expertise and offered ideas as to how the state could otherwise address its financial needs. The atmosphere cre- ated by those gathered was one of peace, showing a sincere and deep concern for education in our nation. This in itself was an Easter moment; a gathering of good people sharing a genuine concern. Present too were important elements for further con- versation about education, about our schools, about the protection and formation of our children, about who is responsible, about everyone having a part to play and being involved in bringing about the best we can be. This is living Easter. If as a nation we really wanted to Add Value to education it would be through a full buy-in and participation, by state and people, in the life of our places of learning and formation.”
My wish to all for Easter is to live your Easter identity, your Easter vocation to the full and may the mysteries of Resurrection grow in your hears and radiate to our prisons, our schools, our families, our places of business bringing the mark of hope and new life to all.