In the days and weeks and months ahead the pressure to pursue the death penalty for the surviving Boston Marathon Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, will only increase.
This, in spite of the fact that capital punishment is not a deterrent against such crimes in the future, nor does it restore the lives lost to violence.
Instead, capital punishment perpetuates a cycle of death.
Given the extremely public nature of this case, some will say this is grandstanding. On the contrary. Given the nature of this case it's imperative that those who stand for peace stand tall against the tidal wave of vengeance.
This isn't some cheap political trick.
It's the affirmation of grace and the power of mercy.
Peace is ours to be had, not vengeance.
There is little doubt that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, if found guilty, deserves severe and lasting punishment for the crimes he is accused of.
There is, however, significant doubt that capital punishment is an effective resolution to the crimes committed - or any crime, for that matter.
Given that a death sentence does not ensure justice, I view it prudent for the DOJ and/or other prosecuting authorities in this case to pursue life imprisonment instead.
As President Kennedy once said, “Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures. And however undramatic the pursuit of peace, the pursuit must go on.”
If we are to create a durable peace it must be put to the test. It must be a peace that responds to death with life; a peace that honors the wishes of Martin Richard, which were plainly stated, “No more hurting people” and a peace that reaffirms the strength of our character.
It would be easy to assign Dzhokhar Tsarnaev a fate of death. But, we’d be no closer to peace. No closer to restoration. No closer to justice.
It is hard to choose grace. And, it’s even harder to grant mercy.
As a society, we chose to go to the moon not because it was easy but because it was hard. Can we summon the conviction to do what is hard once more?
Can we take a step--a gradual step--towards peace?
I think we can.
I think we must.