I am Troy Davis. We are Troy Davis.
These were the clarion calls pronounced throughout the week and into the final moments of Troy Davis’ life last night as he was executed in Georgia.
These words were much more than a show of solidarity across the nation and the world; they were an awakening to our interconnectedness, a proclamation that we are all one. On a cellular level, we know that to kill Troy Davis is to kill ourselves. To harm one harms us all.
This sense of oneness can draw us together and comfort us in times of great sorrow; it can also be inconvenient. We can’t on the one hand claim “we are Troy Davis” while simultaneously distancing ourselves from the criminal justice system on the other. The state of Georgia didn’t kill Troy Davis – we all did.
Our justice system is simply holding up a mirror for us, and the outrage comes in part because we finally don’t like what we see. The decision to execute Troy Davis reflects our deeply entrenched collective consciousness of individuality, redemption, greed, and fear. The death penalty is still here because we haven’t denied it. “We” aren’t there yet, even if you were on the streets last night protesting.
This shift from blame to ownership is difficult to reconcile. Naturally, our egos want to categorize “us” as different from “them” – those who believe in an eye for an eye. It’s funny how quickly the mindset of oneness disappears. Oneness is the opposite of a death penalty mentality, and it is also the opposite of setting yourself apart from others.
The experience of Oneness comes from the heart. It comes from pure love and compassion. It comes from humility. Evolving out of the brutishness of the death penalty will happen if we can hold on to the love we felt this week. A love like this will make it impossible for us to accept or ignore the death penalty. Guilty or innocent, our instincts will be not to kill.
As this movement against capital punishment continues to build – which is really a movement to affirm life – it’s important not to risk polarizing. An angry movement is ultimately a flat movement grounded in fear. A movement grounded in love and Oneness is fierce and knows no bounds. And forgiveness is a radical and political act that can begin to liberate us from a reactionary, punitive and cautious collective consciousness.
Megan Tady is a writer blending spirituality, humor and politics, as well as a yoga instructor and practioner of Insight mediation and mindfulness.