Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"This I Believe"

About a month ago there was a post here about Arthur Tyler [click]. In two months he is scheduled to be executed by the state of Ohio, the governor can choose to intervene. To-day, is Saint Dismas Day. Dismas was the man who befriended Jesus while they both were being executed on crosses. The governor of that day also had an option for leniency. Arthur Tyler was a 'thief', but was condemned as a murderer; and it is very evident, that, he was not. The many years in confinement has allowed him to think, for as the old song has it „Die Gedanken sind frei” (Thoughts are free).

For some time National Public Radio had a running series, "This I Believe", wherein people submitted essays. Arthur Tyler submitted one (not aired) in June of 2013.

This I Believe...

I've lived in several different cells in my 29 years on death row, but this is the first time I've had a window in my cell. Who knew something so simple could be so transformative? I was recently transferred to an older, more run down prison. There is no running hot water and the drinking water is so contaminated we can't drink it, even after boiling it. It's flea-infested too. They tried to make it pretty by painting over the dirty walls, but somehow the paint trapped a stench that is almost unbearable.Yet this small window has made all the difference, made all the filth and stench and injustice bearable. I never realized how a window can turn you into a believer in goodness, how it can tamp down your anger, how it can turn you into a person full of gratitude.

Being convicted of a murder i did not commit, I long ago lost my life as I knew it. During my time in prison, people I loved like my mother and brothers have died—and I never got to say goodbye and I was mad about it. Yet this window has changed me, changed my outlook on life. Until this window, I had only a photograph of a sunrise and sunset on my cell wall to look at.

Now out my window I can watch an actual sunrise for the first time in a very long time and realize again that each day life begins anew in glory. I awoke my first morning here to the songs of birds. I had forgotten how beautiful a bird's song is—and I felt my heart wanting to join in. And the vastness of the sky was a new revelation that made me not feel so empty. And how was it that I didn't remember the beauty of trees, of flowers in full color? Until this window, I had forgotten how sweet it is to feel and smell a warm day, to watch it bloom.

The other day, I watched a storm brewing and I could hear the sound of raindrops before they hit the ground. I sit by my small window and meditate and for the first time in a long time, my heart doesn't feel so angry. And I believe again that life can be good despite the circumstances. All it took was to be able to look out this little window.

The window helps me believe that human nature is balanced more towards good than evil, that most people are essentially good at heart. Maybe everyone needs a window through which to believe. 
postscriptum: 7 p.m. 29 April 2014: "The Ohio Parole Board recommended to Gov. John Kasich today that convicted killer Arthur Tyler’s death sentence should be commuted to time served, making him immediately eligible for release from prison" [click]

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