Walking into the execution room, I immediately got chills. Terry, our guide is casually talking about the procedure. He mentions a viewing lottery. More chills and misty eyes. I ask a clarifying question because that seems inhumane. Nope, I heard correctly. People pay to see others die. I bite the corner of my lip and bounce up and down a bit to distract myself from crying. Is this real life? Did I really just hear him correctly? This happens in our country and it’s legal? But why?
I look at the table. the straps. the little room in the corner where the doctor administers the drug. I picture the scenario. A distraught man is escorted in, looking hopeless. The guards strap him to the table, his trunk, arms, legs, and lastly his head. He lays still, a tear runs down his cheek. He’s resigned to the fact that he ate his last meal of cornbread and crawfish with a couple Dr. Peppers.
A doctor, lawyer, victims family, and a strange face sit next door viewing the morose scene. They watch the procedure with a slight smile feeling like justice is being served. A life for a life.
I block out what Terry is saying. I don’t care anymore. My energy is going towards fighting back tears and comprehending what I’ve been told throughout the tour. I feel like Jonas when he sees his father Releasing one of the twins. He is mortified that he’s been lied to all these years. He’s distraught, thinking that a simple procedure that seemed so acceptable has now been made real. He questions what he has known as truth for the first twelve years of life. His trust has been debunked in the Community, with his family, and any Elders he’s depended on.
As I walked out of the little execution chamber, that’s what I felt. My life was a lie. I experienced an overwhelming amount of empathy, grief, sadness, disappointment, anger, and hurt. I was naive, deceived, and lost. I wanted to run but I was literally locked in a prison. I was surrounded by friends but I felt alone. It seemed like the depths of despair and I didn’t know how to process.
It was the last straw for Jonas. It changed me. At a pivotal point in my life, it helped me see the truth…and from that truth, I started to see things differently. My family, faith, justice, grace, and the value of life.
Maybe it’ll take you seeing a Release or walking into an execution chamber, maybe not. I don’t know…but I hope you have a moment. One that changes your life, opens your eyes, and makes you realize the value of life. Something like this can rock your world and it’s a feeling you just can’t shake. Don’t ignore it.