The mistakes that we make and the repercussions we’re confronted with as a result of them define who we all are. It may have been a serious misjudgement in your relationship, drug or alcohol abuse or inadvertently dealing with any serious incident poorly. We’d like to think our response to our inner feelings and the passion that drives us to steer our hearts towards what you could perhaps call our individual destiny, leads us to bettering ourselves. Sometimes though it’s through an unfortunate series of mistakes and events that you discover yourself after undertaking an immense personal journey that couldn’t have been actualised without those errors in your life. It’s that adversity as a result of those mistakes that manufactures the extraordinary opportunity to change your life.
Ten years ago Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan made a serious error of judgement. Their mistake it seems is going to cost them their life. No one is arguing that the decision to traffic heroin was anything less than mindless. They were selfish, they were driven by monetary value and lacked the very compassion that a lot of people are feeling for both of them. Those actions are to the detriment of society and need to be dealt with via appropriate punishment. Punishment is an exercise that’s used to teach someone a lesson. Your parents incorporated it in your younger life to deter you from making the same mistakes again, and for the most part no one would disagree that it was certainly effective in hindsight.
Taking away someones life removes the opportunity for them to learn from their mistakes, and in turn the purpose of punishment is lost. Regardless of the crime, and in extreme circumstances if they’re not able to be rehabilitated, then they face the prospect of forfeiting their right to walk amongst those who live a peaceful life forever. That’s certainly not the character assessment that these two men can be categorised in. In a prison that’s notorious for drug use and violence, they’ve both managed to avoid wasting the last days of their life senselessly. Through art, mentoring other inmates, and having a positive profound impact on the lives of others, it’s a clear indication that they’re both rehabilitated. It’s one of the most inspiring examples to others that you can really realign your life after absorbing the lessons of poor decisions.
What lessons have we really learnt ourselves though in the context of domestic and international federal policy. Heroin continues to enter Australia. It’s clear that those smuggling it aren’t deterred by the prospect of losing their lives, so it’s obviously an ineffective measure to resolve drug abuse. Compassion, understanding and a meaningful approach to education will go a long way to curbing the demand that facilitates detrimental addiction. Without that senseless demand, there wouldn’t be a supply for it. Both of these two men have proven worthy ambassadors who I’m sure wouldn’t hesitate to utilise their experience to save the lives of those struggling as a result of drug abuse. The world has truly lost an opportunity to show the global community that empathy and encouraging positive internal progress is the solution to so many of our problems, irrespective of what they are.
I’m going to refrain from heavily analysing the atrocious errors of the Australian Federal Police by signing their death warrants by refusing them to be sentenced in Australia, and I’m also going to refrain from discussing the internal Indonesian corruption that empowers drug traffickers to operate in their country. You could argue the involvement of the Australian media provided the Indonesian government the perfect opportunity to make examples of them to shore up their own illusions of political gain, and that’s probably one of the most saddening examples of this injustice. Australia’s relationship with Indonesia has always been difficult at times, and Australia certainly has a lot to learn from our own treatment of those in need. It’d be hypocritical of us to not acknowledge that if we’re going to provide a balanced appraisal. The Indonesian prison system should be celebrating their efforts that have allowed these two to redeem themselves.
Everyone certainly has their own opinion on what their fate should be, and if yours is one that lacks leniency then you should probably question your own morality on what it means to live through the type of hell they both must be experiencing knowing their lives are almost over. If you can for one second put yourself in that situation and let that drift deeply into your soul then I hope it changes your perspective from one of cynical defiance to one of love and understanding.
As a result of their mistakes, they’ve become the men they’ve always wanted to be and for that they should be incredibly proud of themselves and I think we all should be as well.
Elliot Clarke, Monday April 27 2015