This afternoon the kids in my debating group had a heated discussion on whether juvenile delinquents deserved to be shown compassion and to my surprise, only a handful of them agreed that children deserve our empathy and understanding. Their *radical* view was met with a resounding ‘no way!’ by the rest of the group. I can only imagine how they feel about adult criminals. They failed to see that empathy too has a role to play in crime and punishment.
I’m not going to get into the details of whether or not criminals deserve compassion, that’s an entirely different discussion but when I came home this evening and as I was going through Barkha Dutt’s twitter feed I read that Sarabjit Singh is lying in Pakistan, probably breathing his last while the our governments debate on whether or not he deserves sympathy so that he can be sent home to die in India.
The entire situation makes me uneasy.
I felt a similar unease back when, Osama Bin Laden was killed. My initial and internal reaction to the news both then and now was a quiet sense of relief. Call me naïve if you will, but the celebrations that followed made me extremely uneasy. The frenzied merriment seemed too crass, too vulgar and extremely inhumane. Dancing on the grave of a dead man no matter how evil he was seems so gross, so debauched and so callous.
The responses to Barkha’s tweets this evening are quite unforgiving. They made me cringe. They made me uneasy. I cannot explain why. It feels like we’ve lost touch with our spiritual selves. We lost our sense of compassion. We’ve lost our way.
Whether Sarabjit Singh is actually guilty or not or whether he is the victim of mistaken identity, as his family claims, that is for the authorities to ascertain, but he certainly deserves the right to live with dignity like others prisoners and most definitely the right to die at home among people who care for him, irrespective of …….well everything!