Death and Survival

I watched a TV program recently about the evolution of executions, in particular hangings and the firing squad.

In the beginning of hangings they discovered many interesting things.  For example, if they used a hemp rope, it cut through the throat and caused a lot of bleeding.  It was deemed too graphic and cruel punishment.  A proper hanging meant a clean break of the neck.  Hanging is ok, seeing blood is not.  They want a “clean” death.  Humane death.  Is there such a thing as a humane death?  Death by definition is generally not considered humane.

You have to realize that the hangman and the convicted one were very likely at least acquainted with one another, and the hangmen didn’t always relish their task.  So at one point they created an ingenious contraption for an automatic hanging machine.

Using ropes and pulleys, water and a large tree trunk, they rigged the machine to weigh the convict as he stood on the trapdoor, currently held closed by the log.  The hangman would place the noose and walk away.  Water was displaced to the same weight as the convict, a rope attached to various pulleys yank the log holding the trap door, which then opens and the convict drops.  That’s quite a lot of engineering in order to create the perfect execution.

Another way they tried anonymity was with an automatic firing squad.  Three guns are used, and the triggers are rigged with ropes which disappear behind a wall.  The rope then is tied to a bolt.  Beneath the rope is a candle.  The candle is lit, and slowly the rope burns away, releasing the triggers and shooting the convict.

That’s a lot of energy on perfecting machinery for killing.

Then there are the Survivor shows.  It makes me wonder about our priorities in the US.  We put people in a remote place already populated and see how long they can last, and they make them work against each other.  In some countries, that’s called life!  In the US, it’s a game show?

I don’t get the other kind of survivor shows:  How I escaped death, or I survived a bear attack.

There was a story about one guy who survived a night time plane crash on the water.  There are other survivors, all calling to each other in the dark.  This one survivor notices a sheen on the water and realizes that they are floating in a pool of airplane fuel.  He shouts a warning just as someone flicks a lighter, setting the entire pool and those in it on fire.

Having just nanoseconds to react, this survivor drops below the surface and manages to avoid immolation.  I’m thinking, boy, someone was really trying to kill this guy.  His time was up and fate/karma/Death was doing its utmost to take this guy out.

A week later he’s hit by a car and killed.    He was supposed to die.

Karma is karma and when it’s your time to go, it will find a way to take you out.

6 thoughts on “Death and Survival

  1. The ‘survivor’ shows and the ‘Big Brother’ show…(both of which I do not watch) I think are moronic…like you mentioned ‘setting people against’ each other… It’s more than a contest, but making them think up devious ways to ‘win’ at all costs… Some like these shows.. I choose to not watch some of the worst characteristics displayed… Diane

    1. Absolutely. It’s sobering to realize all the engineering and planning that has gone into ways of perfecting execution methods. It’s a pretty sad statement about human nature. If we spent half as much energy on ways to help each other, perhaps we wouldn’t need to worry about executions. Which are just wrong on any level. A far worse punishment for a mass murderer is making him/her rot in prison. Death seems as if it would be a cheap escape from years of loneliness and deprivation. If you really want to punish someone, give them a lifelong prison sentence (and then don’t fix his teeth or provide better medical care than we provide to the hardworking poor).

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