THE SPIRITS’ BOOK

Allan Kardec

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760. Will the death penalty ever disappear from human legal codes?
“The death penalty will disappear over the course of time, and when it does its eradication will mark progress of the human race. When people become more enlightened, the death penalty will be completely abolished across the globe, and humans will no longer need to be judged by humans. This time is still a long way off.”


The social progress already made leaves much to be desired, but it would be unfair for modern society not to recognize the progress that has been successively made. We should think in terms of restrictions on capital punishment and the crimes for which it is handed down in the most advanced nations. If we compare the measures with which the law handles the accused and the humanity with which they are treated, even when found guilty in these countries, with the methods of criminal procedure used in the recent past, the progress of the human race is obvious.


761. The law of self-preservation gives human beings the right to protect their own lives. Aren’t we simply exercising this right when we eliminate a dangerous member from society? “There are other means of protecting yourselves from dangerous individuals than killing them. You should open the door of repentance for criminals, rather than closing it to them.”


762. While the death penalty may one day be banished in civilized society, was it not necessary in more primitive times?
“Necessary is not the right word. Human beings always think that something is necessary when they cannot find anything better. As they become enlightened, they understand justice and injustice more clearly, and reject the abuses committed during ignorant times all in the name of justice.”


763. Is the restriction of the number of cases in which the death penalty is enforced an indication of progress in civilization?
“Is there any doubt? Are you not revolted when you read about the human massacres that were once carried out in the name of justice, and often in honor of God? What about the torture inflicted on the condemned, and even on the accused, to coerce a confession for crimes that they often had not committed? If you had lived during those times, you would have thought that this was all very natural, and if you had been a judge, you probably would have done the same. What seems right in one time is barbaric in another. Only God’s laws are eternal, while societal laws change as human beings progress. They will continue to change until they are in harmony with God’s laws.”


764. Jesus said, “Those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” Are these words the recognition of the law of retaliation? Is the death penalty, enforced on a murderer, an application of this law?
“Be careful! Like so many others, you have misinterpreted the meaning of these words. The only good retaliation is God’s justice, because God applies it. You are all enduring this retribution at all times because you are punished for your wrongdoings, in this life or in another. Those who have caused their fellow human beings to suffer will be placed in a situation where they will suffer what they caused others to endure. This is the true meaning of Jesus’ words. He has also said, ‘Forgive your enemies, and he taught you to pray that God may forgive your trespasses as you forgive those who have trespassed against you, meaning exactly proportionate to your forgiveness toward others. Try to absorb the full meaning of those words.”


765. What should we think of the enforcement of the death penalty in God’s name?
“This takes God’s place in the administration of justice. Those who do this show how far they are from understanding God, and how much they still have to atone. Capital punishment is a crime when applied in God’s name, and those who enforce it will answer for it just like any other murder.”

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