It says in the Talmud, that whenever anyone was executed by a court, God cried. God cried out, "My head hurts! My arm hurts! My head hurts!"
Imagine how God must have felt when Darrell Rich went on his terrible rampage 22 years ago. One of his victims, Annete Selix was lured or dragged into a car and the next day she was found dead, curled in the fetal position at the bottom of a 105 foot bridge, broken and sexually brutalized. She had been flung naked from the bridge to the muddy gravel below while still alive after her attacker had raped and sodomized her and left deep bite marks on her body. She choked on her own blood before dying.
Before this summer of carnage was over, Darrell Rich had murdered four women and girls and sexually assaulted and beat five more, each with unusual savagery. He left a trail of crushed skulls, pistol barrels shoved into innocent mouths and then fired, women and girls screaming, pleading for their lives as he raped and killed them.
Annete Selix's parents have been waiting 22 years for Darrell Rich to die. To this day, her mother, Sharon Tidwell awakens trying to scream after dreaming of her daughter playing in the living room. She bolts up in bed with tears streaming down her face, she opens her mouth but no sound comes out. Her grief is so deep that she has not been able to put a tombstone on ansfdaughter's grave.
When I hear these stories, my heart wants to break. My head hurts me. My arm hurts me. My head hearts me. And I can feel the bitter urge for vengeance rising in my heart like a terrible bile. And I can feel a terrible thought rising in my mind; "Maybe it would be better if he did die."
Over course, it would not. It would accomplish nothing. It would only bring a further horror to this world. It would only add another grisly image to the collective image bank. Now, next to the pictures of these young women raped and brutalized, would be another horrific image. A man brutalized, twitching to death by our own conscious act in an antiseptic cell. Of course God cried when Darrell Rich went on his rampage, but he will cry tonight as well. The second act, the killing of Darrell Rich, will not reverse the first, it will only make it worse. The second act will not bring peace to the loved ones of Darrell Rich's victims; it cannot do that. That is an impossibility- a spiritual and a psychological impossibility.
You know I read all these horrible things I told you a moment ago in the paper the other day, the SF Chronicle. And there on the second page in the same paper was an interview with Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people in Oklahoma City and wounded six hundred others. He was asked why he thought it was okay to resort to violence to further his cause. He said "If government is the teacher, violence would be an acceptable option. What do we do when we go to war? What are we doing with the death penalty? It appears they use violence as an option all the time."
But that's all right, because we're going to kill Timothy McVeigh too. Because here on the surface of the world, we continue to flail around, chasing after our own worst instincts, until the world becomes a river of blood, a vicious cycle of blood lust, revenge and violence. Kosovo, Oklahoma City, Hilltop Drive, San Quentin.
But far beneath the surface of the world there is an immutable law at work and that law says, life is sacred. All of life. Every life.
And that law says every human being is the bearer of the Divine, every human life is absolutely unique, absolutely precious.
And that law says it took all of time and all of eternity to produce every human life. And that law says that every human life is the potential source of a whole world full of subsequent lives, so that to kill a single human being is tantamount to killing a whole world.
This is why we feel such horror when we read the accounts of the killings which took place 22 years ago. But that is also why what we are preparing to do tonight is no less horrific, no less a profanation of the sacred, no less a violation of Divine Law.
And that law is an immutable law and that law was there from the beginning of time and it will be there after time is over and that law says and that law will always say this:
A million years will pass, the mountains will crumble and the rivers will run dry, but killing will never bring peace. Not once. It's a spiritual impossibility. Hatred and violence can only bring more hatred, more violence in their wake; horror, more horror. They can never bring peace.Only love can bring peace.This is an immutable law. This is the law that runs beneath the surface of the world and has always run there.
So please dear friends, lets look at what is happening with very clear eyes. Let there be no romanticism or delusion on either side. On the one hand, Darrell Rich is no hero; on the other hand, killing him will solve nothing. It will only make matters worse. Let's look at what's happening with clear eyes. The immutable law of the world is at work -- the wheel is turning. Even here on the surface of the world, the cycle continues. Violence continues to beget violence. Horror begets horror, and the horror we perpetrate tonight will beget more horror still.
Take it from a man who killed 168 innocent souls in Oklahoma. Our actions have consequences and the only possible consequence of killing and hatred is more of the same.
Every time we add another horror to the world, every time we add another death, God cries out, "My head hurts. My arm hurts. My head hurts," and the wheel keeps turning.
Violence can never beget peace. Hatred can never beget love. Only love can beget love. Only peace can beget peace. Not more horror. Please God, not more horror. Not more of the horrific taking of life. Let's get off this terrifying wheel.