December 21, 2006

Martí on the Death Penalty

In November 1871, 18-year-old Cuban history icon and all-around superhero José Martí wrote about the death penalty in his private notebook:

“From the moment I could feel, I have been horrified by this penalty. From the moment I could judge, I judged it to be completely immoral. I will never be known for my utilitarian solutions, but if there is one thing I know about utility, it is the complete uselessness of capital punishment.

“It may be an illusion of my overheated mind, but anything that advocates the death penalty seems to me to be stained with blood.”

That small tidbit stayed with me this morning, long past the uplifting effect of black coffee and toast, long past the sobering effect of a cold walk to work and the encounters with unfortunate homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk.

In 1872, young Martí would write in his notebook:

“Life is undoubtedly a contradiction. We desire what we cannot obtain; we want what we shall not have; and no contradiction could exist without the existence of two distinct and opposing forces.”

And then:

“Whatever in me is of worth I did not give to myself. What there is in me is mine only insofar as it temporarily exists within me. I am what I am, but I am not responsible for a spirit I could not choose; I cannot pride myself on a soul I did not create.”



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have truly enjoyed what ou wrote and hope to hear more

10:58 PM, April 28, 2007  

Post a Comment

<< Home