So after years of waiting, what it comes down to is that there are five men at Guantanamo who probably are truly guilty of a monstrous crime against humanity and who are eager to die as martyrs. And now we need to decide whether our own values are different enough to frustrate them and let them live. Do we agree with them that killing those with whom we differ is the way to make our point, or are we able to act on the basis of a different system of values: one that affirms life, not death.

We have in this country a powerful alliance of groups who affirm the “Right to Life.” Can they see the need for consistency in choosing life, and do it now?

The Roman Catholic Church has taken a consistent stand for life and against the death penalty. Will they bring their influence to bear in behalf of their stated principles?

Many, if not most, Episcopal dioceses have passed resolutions against the death penalty. Will they now stand up for what they say they believe?

This is not a popular cause, but if we only stand up for the popular causes, our principles are meaningless. A ground swell of support for 2,819 consecutive life sentences for those guilty of the attack on the Trade Towers would send a message to the world that we do indeed stand for something: for life, rather than death, for peace rather than violence, for a new world not the old one.

This comes from the New York Times of December 8: “Alice Hoagland, the mother of Mark Bingham, who was killed on Sept. 11, said she was pleased that the military judge had not rushed to allow guilty pleas. The detainees ‘do not deserve to be dealt with as martyrs,’ Ms. Hoagland said. ‘They do not deserve the glory of execution.’”

That’s one vote for a better way. Are there enough more votes to make a difference?

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