One of the issues that replaced the devastating earthquake in Nepal off the front pages of the TV news and daily papers was the execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the Bali-nine drug smugglers. I am all for being a little patriotic about one’s country and her citizens, but I did find it rather ‘selfish’ to be focusing on two Australians being punished for a crime while ten thousand people have just lost their lives in an earthquake.
So what do we say about these executions? I must admit, I really struggle with this for on the one hand, these guys have broken the laws of a foreign country, and then on the other hand, as our Prime Minister also noted in his comments, it’s rather cruel that these two men are executed after already spending so many years in jail.
We also need to note that no one has been suggesting that these guys were innocent of the crime they committed. The issue is whether capital punishment is warranted versus a lengthy term of imprisonment.
One other thing that makes the waters a little bit murky in this case is that both these men have been portrayed as completely rehabilitated. Andrew Chan converted to Christianity, and Myuran Sukumaran has become known as a skilled artist.
Many of us as parents can identify with the grief of the immediate families of these two men. Our children always remain our children and it must be awfully difficult for these families to come to terms with this loss. And it is our prayer that the Lord of mercy will use this event to comfort those who are grieving and through this draw others to Him. We also pray that the end result may deter would be ‘drug-smugglers’ to no longer be involved in this crime.
Sadly, in all of this the facts of the original crime and the impact it may have had going forward is often lost. In 2005 the “Bali-nine” were caught trying to bring into Australia 8.3 kilograms of high-grade heroin. Although they knew the risk of trafficking this drug through Indonesian territory, they went ahead anyhow. If they had been successful, they would have been $4 million richer. The drug would have been cut, wrapped into individual foils and sold to many of our young (and perhaps not so young) people to be injected into their veins and possibly cause the death of many. Even without this additional 8.3 kilos of heroin, 131 people still died of heroin overdoses in 2005. Everyone knows that trafficking heroin has the real potential to kill people, as the “Bali-nine” knew. Yet sadly, for personal gain they were willing to take the risk.
I am sure there are grieving parents, brothers and sisters in this country who have lost loved ones because some drug mule managed to slip past the authorities and brought this poison to their children. I dare say, even if we were to tell them that Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran now regret what they did, they wouldn’t be all that sympathetic.
Where’s the answer in all of this? Surely part of the answer must lie with good education, better moral standards, and better systems of justice. However, the main answer is that people need to be taught about the greatest commandment. People need to be taught that their first priority in life is to love God with their whole being and thus bring glory to His Name. And when that is in place, they will also love their neighbour as they love themselves. When this occurs, people will no longer poison their neighbours for personal gain for they will be amazed at God’s love for them, especially in Jesus Christ.
Today’s guest blog was written by John Zuidema, pastor of CRC Dee Why, Sydney.