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Appeal to Governor Schwarzenegger

Save the life of
Stanley "Tookie" Williams



Jan Oberg, TFF director


Lund, Sweden - December 9, 2005

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger


Moral leaders of our times - such as those who have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize - have consistently been against violence in general and the death penalty in particular.

If we kill a fellow human being, the act can never be redressed. We can never say, I am sorry if - later - it turns out that we made the wrong decision.

The case of Stanley Williams is not only about his guilt, but also about the doubts and perhaps feelings of guilt you will feel forever as a moral being: did he really deserve to die? What if I made the wrong decision? How will I be judged for this? I am stuck since I cannot make it good again.

Stanley Williams may have done very bad things. We must think, of course, with empathy and sorrow of the loved ones of those he may have done violence to. But killing him will not make them less sad or more happy. The victim needs, first of all, recognition that the perpetrator has done wrong. And by serving so many years in prison that is very clearly the case.

This case is also about the moral power of reconciliation and forgiveness, about freeing ourselves of the burdensome wish to seek revenge. "Tookie" has obviously repented; he has inspired thousands of young people by his from-bad-to-good example to never go down the path of violence and destroy others as well as themselves.

At some point a cruel deed has been punished enough. At some point we must ask why some people inflict cruelty on others. But we must never be taken to just wish for revenge and, in a way, repeat on them what they have done to us.

Gandhi said: "The principle of an eye for an eye will one day make the whole world blind."

"Tookie" deserves not to be killed because he has repented so convincingly and because, if you let him live, he can help many more to understand the virtue and ethics of not doing harm to others.

Mr. Governor, before you make up your mind, imagine yourself standing in front of Tookie with a very long and sharp knife. Ask yourself whether you would be able to kill him with it, spill his blood and see his eyes the moment you do it. I don't know you personally, but I cannot believe for a second that you would be able to kill him by your own hands.

And if you can not see yourself do that, then don't let anybody else and no medium take his life. By saving his life - because that is what you can do - you will join the moral leaders of whom this world needs many more.

As Einstein once said about the prospects of more violence - "Remember your humanity and forget the rest!" I trust you will do so and set an example for millions around the world.


Respectfully yours - and thanks for your attention


Jan Oberg. PhD, dr.hc

Director of TFF

peace researcher


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