We walk over the sprawling beach. My husband and the youngest son are behind us and collecting shells. The eldest son and I are going far ahead. The Fritz-dog runs back and forth. To us forward and then back to the other two. He is a shepherd dog for two genetic reasons: Briard and Australian Shepherd. He has it in his blood to keep the flock together. When he comes, he nudges lovingly against the hand or the thigh: Hey- you have to wait. Or: Come, let us run together to the others. In any case, he gets what he needs: 2h neat movement.
The eldest son wants to know everything about the death penalty. He wants to know if one is facing a wall and is shot from behind. And if it also exists in Germany and Europe. We talk about America. About states in which the death penalty is carried out there. For what reasons someone is executed. What has to be done legally before any such punishment can be done, and that the public is involved through the press. About the electric chair in recent times and today’s lethal injection. On several occasions, I reassure to stress that there must be several legal proceedings before anyone can be sentenced to death. Along the way, I’m thinking about the fact that there will certainly be executions that bypass the judiciary and how that can go, but I decide to discuss it with the son when he’s older. It’s strange with the son in such matters anyway. As a mere three-year-old, he questioned me about death and dealt with it for months. But until today he is thin-skinned, as far as movies are concerned. We avoid anything that has anything to do with violence, and he himself decides very carefully, when he does not want to see a movie anymore, and then turns off. This can sometimes be a film that is considered by the parents to be valuable and harmless, such as „We children from Bullerbü“. Nevertheless, he senses the injustice and violence in real life and has to talk and think about it.
Now, however, the son continues to ask questions about the death penalty by shooting, standing in front of a wall and having the executor in his back. I point out that there is a chapter in the history of our own country, that is not too long ago. We talk a bit about whom this death penalty was at that time and why. And also, that there were no offenders who were executed there, and how arbitrary it can go in a state, when human lives are respected low and racism or ideologies determine the mindset of the rulers and citizens.
Then we talk about the countries, where it still happens today, and how it is politically there. That Christians in some countries experience such caprice, or simply persons, who are of different faith than the majority. Or people who think differently, or do not fit into the picture. We talk about how God deals with death penalty. And what he did, when the first (brother) murder took place. And I am glad that the son draws the right conclusions: God even protects the murderer. He does not want another bloodshed.
I remind the son of the sermon series before the summer holidays: peacemakers. He had asked me if he could stay in the service during this sermon series, instead of going to the children’s service, because he was so interested in it. I remind him of the sermons. About Jesus riding on a donkey and not on a warhorse to Jerusalem, and what that signaled. (https://rausausderaffenfalle.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/der-prinz-des-friedens/)Remembering that the commander of peace would not even break a bent reed or wipe out a smoldering wick. About what is behind the words of Jesus from the left cheek and the second mile. On the creative but non-violent resistance, to which Jesus called the masses oppressed by the Romans. (more here: https://rausausderaffenfalle.wordpress.com/2018/02/28/von-linken-wangen-und-letzten-hemden//) We talk about Martin Luther King and about the fact, that violence always gives birth to violence, and that only love can overcome hate. That God Himself acts in the same way: that he loves us so much, and that he conquers hatred by dying for those who hate him and exert violence.
The son gets very excited and says: „The first Christians reacted in the same way. For example Tetanus! „I have to giggle a bit. Then we talk about Stephanus (german version of Stephen: he meant Stephanus, and said Tetanus), and how you have to be on it to be like him. In the evening I have to think back to our conversation. And somehow I can not get it out of my head with the „tetanus“. Not only because the language confusion 😉 is funny. But also because it would be nice if we all had such a Stephanus vaccination. A love dose for the enemies. A look into the open sky, overcoming. Oh no – not that we all have to become martyrs. May it never be necessary. But that we would have more love for our adversaries in everyday life – on both a large and a small scale. Or even for dissenters. Such a little love vaccination – which might also be contagious. That would be great.