Austrian Brain, American Brain

Last week, there was an interesting editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle about the execution of Crips gang leader and convicted murderer Stan "Tookie" Williams.

Here is an excerpt:

"GOV. ARNOLD Schwarzenegger once characterized his conflicted feelings about the death penalty as a duel between his "Austrian brain and the American brain."

He recalled that capital punishment was an "absolute no-no" in his native Austria. On Monday, his "American brain" prevailed. Perhaps his "Austrian brain" would have recognized the value of keeping Williams alive to offer a credible voice of warning to young people who are vulnerable to the lure of gangs. Perhaps his immersion in American culture has anesthetized him to concerns about the margin of error in this nation's justice system."

This Austrian brain, American brain notion is worth some discussion. While I am not equipped to comment on the Austrian brain, I am wondering about the American brain.

As an American myself, what sort of brain do I carry around in my head when it comes to redemption and revenge?

Personally, I believe that a convicted killer should be punished. But killed by the state? No. As a Christian, my brain travels on a different track than this nation's justice system.

Here is a group of people, touched by terrible violence, who are thinking quite differently.

Is there a way that we can work toward a World Brain that advocates peace instead of violence?

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/22/2005


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