Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

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Sitting as silent witness as my birthday celebration

“What did you do for your birthday?”

“I sat as silent witness.”


tdcj-adam-ward-execution“I sat as silent witness at the steps of Texas State Capitol, as Adam Ward was executed at Huntsville Death House for killing a city inspector.”

“That doesn’t sound like fun.”

It wasn’t. I sobbed as the church bells rang at 6 pm, the moment when Adam was tied to a steel bed frame and forced to receive his lethal injection.

It is hard, every time I sit. It doesn’t get easier over time. I grieve the loss of every precious life. I mourn our inability to support our children growing up into adults who are able to include all needs. I suffer from our inability to use protective force, instead of punitive.

I lost my excitement to eat my birthday apple pie with friends afterwards.

Yet the awareness of our impermanence also seems fitting. What better way to appreciate the life I’ve been given, than by reflecting on the preciousness and vulnerability of it? What better way to value the love and support I receive from my family and friends, than to mourn those who grew up without love and support? To grieve for the children who are left to the violence of their caretakers? How better to celebrate my blessings, than to show up for those who have come to believe they have none at all?

For Adam Ward, sitting as silent witness is a completely ineffective action. We sit at the moment he is killed. Our sitting has no impact whatsoever on the proceedings of his execution or on his life. Hardly any driver at Congress and 11th takes notice of us, or reads our simple sign: “Stop Executions”. Of those who see the sign, one puts out the down-turned thumb. Another wildly gestures “no” in aversion of the idea that we would stop killing the killers. A third rolls down his window to yell “KILL THEM ALL”. I bow to them and their responses. They are my teachers of the human experience. In my aspiration to expand my compassionate heart, I wish to include everyone: those that agree with me, and those that don’t.

And some people honk in agreement or wave their hands. One woman walks up to us and says: “We don’t believe in that punishment either. We are Catholics. We care for life.”

I cry.

At my birthday party, I am not alone. Others care too. I have a small group with me who also grieve the loss of another precious life.

Yes. This is how I want to celebrate the precious life I’ve been given.

You want help to honor your life? Contact me, 512-589-0482 for a free, discovery session.

Thank you, David Nayer, for editing this post during your travels. I am inspired by your shaping of words, the clarity and focus you bring to my writing, and your dedication to contribute!

Killing is a tragic expression of an unmet need

Amnesty InternationalI bite my tongue. With my front teeth. Really hard. It hurts. Yesterday I bit my cheek. With my left molars. Really hard too. It is still painful.

This happens often. It is always a shock. And it always hurts.

I think I’m gonna make a dentist’ appointment and get my front teeth and left molars removed. That way they won’t hurt me no more.


That’s insane!

My teeth and molars are part of me, we are one?! I need them, they didn’t mean harm, what would I do without them, why not eat more slowly, so it doesn’t happen?

Everyone would think I’m crazy if I would remove my teeth and molars, because they hurt me. Yet, execution is standard practice in Texas, and other USA states (Executions per state).

Ray Jasper and Anthony Doyle are scheduled to be executed March 19 and March 27 respectful. Two human beings who made harmful choices in their efforts to escape their own suffering.

Killing them does not create safety. Killing them creates more suffering.

Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us the insight of interbeing: we are interconnected and we exist of self and non-self elements. I eat a carrot. Now the carrot is part of me, and I am partly a carrot. Elly exists of a carrot-element. I poop and my excrement is part of the world around me, the world exists of an Elly-element.

Once we understand interbeing, we understand that killing people is killing part of ourselves.

Killing them is not a solution, it is adding to the problem.

A better solution is to look deeply into the causes of the suffering. Which circumstances let Ray and Anthony to kill? When did we fail to offer our support, our love, our inclusion? Marshall Rosenberg talks about tragic expression of unmet needs. We try to nurture a beautiful, human, universal need and we are not creative enough to chose actions that support the needs at the I-You-and-We level. Which needs were Ray and Anthony trying to meet when they killed their victims? Maybe safety, financial sustainability, respect, a sense of belonging? How can we support them figuring out other ways to support those needs, ways that bring more peace and love to everyone involved? Themselves, others, and us as a society?

One lives among all.

We all need to wake up. We need to see that we are interconnected, that no one lives separate. We need to learn how to create a society that takes care of the throw-away children and leaves no one behind. We need to understand the needs behind the tragic expression of unmet needs, so we can support more creative and wholesome ways to nurture those precious needs.

Let’s speak up for a world of inclusion, love and support. Sign the petition to Governor Rick Perry to urge him to save the lives of Ray and Anthony. Let’s stop killing, and start healing.