This piece was inspired by a photograph on the website "Humans of New York". You can find the original image, published on October 7, here: www.humansofnewyork.com The caption reads: "I just got out of prison. I was there 37 years." "What'd you do?" "Something I shouldn't have done." "What was that?" "Someone pushed me. So I killed him."
His unapologetic expression burns into my retina. The
wrinkles on his leathery skin seem to be the product of extraordinary stress or
bad habits dying hard rather than natural aging. A murderer is gazing right at
me with his cold, piercing eyes, yet in them I can still see decency, a sense
of humanity. I am feeling pity and sympathy for someone that took away another
person’s life simply for “pushing him”. What if the person he killed had a
family? What if that person had someone in his life that only he could support?
What about his aspirations? Goals? Beliefs? Just what in the hell did he mean
by “pushing”? Was the old, weary man in the picture really capable of snuffing
the light out of someone for something as trivial as being moved a couple
inches towards a certain direction in a semi-forceful manner? I mean, he didn’t
say “shoved”, “thrown”, or “pummeled”, so when he said someone pushed him he
meant it literally. Goodness, take a second and think how ridiculous that
notion is for a second. Just think about how many times you run into someone by
accident or walk by someone and nudge them a bit too forcefully in a crowded
hallway or room. Well that’s how many times you deserve to die using that man’s
logic, and I’m not even considering how meaningless that death would be in the
first place. A person’s death can be so powerful and represent so much in such
a brief moment. It could indicate the ushering of a new era, a new king. It
could lead to hundreds of lives being saved and being able to go on and make
families of their own/reunite with their current ones. It could represent the
socioeconomic, personal, and mental struggles of a person struggling to find
themselves in a world that can seem impossible to make heads or tails of.
Instead, what a death like that would mean is that someone needs some anger
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