Look me in the eyes and tell me if I really should die. You know you do not want to kill me. You could take advantage of your work as an executioner to write a story about the empathy you feel right now. When you read it in a few years you will be surprised. I imagine that you will know what empathy is, yes, surely you know it. Try to put yourself in my place and try to imagine what someone who is about to die may feel.
Come on, inquire into yourself, think about what I can be your brother, that you could be me. Answer, what justifies my death? You point me with the barrel of a shotgun that is not even yours. They told you to kill me and do not hesitate to do it. Or so it seems. But I do know that you doubt. You do not want to kill me, you do not want to end my life.
Maybe we are different, but you know that is not enough reason to execute me. My body will end up on the floor emanating a trail of blood and you will go to dinner with your family. You will know that you have killed an innocent man and still you can eat. But I know that inside you will be suffering.
In your story about empathy you can talk about Robert Vischer, do you know who he is? He was a nineteenth-century German philosopher who used the concept of empathy for the first time. Although the German word he used was translated as ‘feel inside’. Interesting, right?
I have no choice
I have no choice, but you do. You can let me run away and nobody will know. I will go away with my family, beyond these borders. Tell me, what do you gain with my death? What do you get hitting me in the head? Nothing, you do not gain anything, maybe you think you’re a good soldier; but, well, for whom or for what?
I want to think that if you are ordered to throw yourself into hell you would not obey the order. I try to imagine that your criteria can direct your actions. That there is a possibility, more or less remote, that you follow that opinion that you have reached for yourself.
Who is your superior? What did he tell you about me? What do you know about my life? I will give you some data for when you write your story about empathy. Do you know that I have a daughter of five years and a son of three?
They are beautiful. My daughter, Luisa, always climbs into my bed in the morning and wakes me up by grabbing my hair. He tells me that dad sleeps a lot. My son, Marco, laughs a lot with his sister. And now, you’re going to leave them without a father. I will not see you again.
Tell me, please, do you think they deserve this? A father you do not know. A father who has been told to get out of the way by having his own ideals, his own political ideology. You are mine, maybe not politically, but in this, in the human. I see it in your eyes. They have told you not to talk so as not to catch my love, but your eyes can not avoid communicating: they have not left you completely blind. Your tense face shows that you only obey to survive.
“My little soul, tender and wandering, guest and companion of my body, you will descend to those pale places, rigid and naked, where you will have to give up the games of yesteryear.”
Behind the tree
Why are we hiding? Why are you placing me behind a tree? Are you ashamed of what you are about to do? Do not hide my death. Do not hide your murder. They told you to kill me, that’s how the country works now. Do it where you can see us, I want you to see how you end my life. Let them see your face when they shoot, let me look at them when my heart is no longer beating. Do not hide what you will do. No, do not do it. Do not hide the orders.
I know you hear me. Of course you listen to me. In your future story about empathy I know that you will leave written that you listened to us all. It is unavoidable. You play brave before your superiors, but you are scared to death. The only thing that consoles you is that the idea has not come from you.
You think that you only obey an order, that your responsibility in this action is minimal: equal or similar to that of the inanimate object that becomes mortal. I would like you to answer me and tell me if you really are so annulled, if you really believe that because it is not your idea, your responsibility disappears. If you were ordered to kill your son, would you do it? You would kill him, not those who ordered you.
When you write your story about empathy it makes it very clear that the one who pulls the trigger is you. And that you could not do it because nobody else will see it. Just you and me. You have options You are part of a system that has made you believe that people like me must die. But you do not believe it, do you? I know that it is not. Surely you are a good father of a family.
The night is about to fall and my head hurts from the tension. The sun goes down, looking for the horizon. I could run, but I know it would end my chances of survival. In the end we ended up accepting our destiny. The question is whether this was really my destiny. How many have you killed before me? Were all poets?
You know? I do not blame you, I do not hold a grudge against you. Maybe in your place I would do the same, or maybe not. Do not think I’m mad at you. Now I’m not mad at anything. Even though my legs are still trembling, I have accepted: I just want peace. My children, my wife, my parents … I hope they are well. I will miss you. At least you could tell them that I remembered them before, say, leaving. I hope that some day you write your story about empathy in which you let see what you could come to feel, but that you are not authorized to express.
I think the time has come. You are loading the shotgun and you are pointing me. You still have time. I’m still alive. You do not want to kill me: it’s an idea that knocks on the door, but you do not want to open it. Can you really sleep tonight knowing you’ve killed an innocent man? Can you look at your children feeling proud of what you have done? You know you do not want to kill me. You could have done it, however, you have not …
“When the pure forms sank under the cri cri of the daisies, I understood that they had killed me.”
-Federico García Lorca-