|Andrew Chan and Myruan Sukumaran|
Personally, I am against the death penalty. I don't honestly believe that killing someone solves the issues surrounding this particular crime, or indeed, many other crimes. The Hoopla ran a story today asking how executing people can stop drug trafficking. The evidence, with people continuing to traffic drugs, even to countries with severe penalties like Indonesia, would suggest that the lure of 'easy' money is stronger than the potential deterrent of a death penalty, should you be caught.
At the same time, I have to feel that people who continue to smuggle drugs in and out of Indonesia have to be incredibly arrogant or completely stupid - it's not as if we in Australia are unaware of the stiff penalties those who are caught could face. And despite the many articles and news stories that speak of Chan and Sukumaran's rehabilitation during the time they've been incarcerated, I find myself wondering how much of that has been due to having had a death sentence hanging over them for the years since they were arrested. Clearly, at that point in time, their focus was on moving the drugs and making their money - and there was, perhaps, little thought about the havoc those drugs would potentially wreak on many many people and their families.
I wrote recently about my younger son and his recent very bad choices that have lead him to become addicted to ice. It's now two months since that hurried trip to his home town, and I have no real news of him. A couple of weeks after I returned home, I had an email from the mental health nurse with whom I'd been corresponding to say she'd managed to speak to him briefly, and that he sounded OK, said he had somewhere to stay, and that, no he didn't want to work with them. Last week, I had a call from his psychiatrist's receptionist, as he'd missed a number of scheduled appointments, and they'd not been able to contact him. All I could do was pass on his current phone number and hope he still has that phone. The text message I sent a few weeks ago disappeared into a black hole.
I deplore the choices he's made. I am so frustrated and angry, on top of being worried sick, by what looks to me like a giant cop out. He told me when I saw him that the ice made him feel like he could cope - which is all well and good until he takes some from a bad batch, or ODs... I have NO good feelings about the people dealing this appalling drug, and would want to see them punished to the fullest possible extent of the law if they could be caught. Here, that wouldn't mean they face a death penalty - just a very long time in prison. And I don't believe that in itself is sufficient deterrent either, because it's clearly not deterring people when the number of ice addicts (not to mention other drugs) is growing, and the median age of addicts is getting much lower.
I feel so bad for the parents and family of the two men in Bali - who, through their son's bad choices face losing them, just as I face the possibility that I may lose No.2. We're not meant to bury our children.
However, and what prompted me finally to write this post, this is - at rock bottom - about choices. As I said to No.2 - like a broken record, because I've been saying this to both the boys forever - there is ALWAYS a choice. We may not always like the options we're looking at at any given point in time, but there always is a choice... Those boys in Bali didn't have to traffic drugs. They could have done what many others do, and looked at career options long term. As it is, they've both been studying while they've been incarcerated, and are close to finishing university courses. Why didn't they do that earlier? Sure, it's not the way to 'easy' money, but it's not going to get them killed either. As a parent, I'm sure I know which way I'd rather see my children make that choice. No.2 spoke many times over the last year about the study options he was considering, once he'd found a job and got his routine back on track. I did many things to help him towards that, but in the end, apparently it was all too hard.
Along with the choices we make comes the responsibility for the consequences. Like it or not, those two things are irrevocably linked. I remember, way back when the boys were tiny, teaching them about consequences. Simple things; if you don't put your toys away, I'll put them away and they won't be there when you want them next. Your toys are your responsibility. It worked. After suffering through the loss of their toys, they learned to tidy up after themselves when they'd been playing. Teaching children is an incremental process of things just like that - the bigger they get, the more important the choices, and the bigger the stakes when it comes to consequences. It may sound like I'm over simplifying this, but honestly, WHAT were the Bali Nine thinking when they made the choice that they did? They knew the possible consequences. They had to know that they were taking appalling risks. Even if they'd slipped through and not been caught, what about the flow on from their actions for countless numbers of others? And ultimately, had they not been caught that time, if they'd continued, eventually their luck would have run out... Is it a symptom of the times we live in that people don't think through their actions? And then, when it all falls apart, that someone should rescue them - because by our lights, the consequences are unfair?
Indonesia has had the death penalty for serious drug trafficking for some time. When we leave Australia and travel to other countries, we are bound by the laws of those countries when we're there, just as visitors here are bound by Australian law. Surely THAT'S the message that should be getting through. Surely people should be looking at this particular case and realising that there are no easy outs. And, if it comes to these two young men being executed, it won't be because our government failed to sway the Indonesian government. It will be because these two men decided to traffic illicit drugs in a country where they knew that if they were caught, they could die as a consequence. And they did it anyway.