We’ve all heard the often used cliche “knowledge is power.” When we are aware and conscious of what’s going on in the world, we are able to formulate opinions and plans of action for change. Knowledge hasn’t always been shared; historically those with power and control have opted to keep facts and observations exoteric and secretive. Although the suppression of information still occurs today, we exist during a special moment unlike any other in history where billions of people have access to a wealth of knowledge and news via the internet. People have learned to tap into the vast cooperative potential of the internet to form protests, sign petitions, and communicate with like-minded individuals all over the globe. It is an extraordinary invention, but there is a drawback to having access to endless information. Because there is so much out there, our attention spans are shorter and in this information age, what’s important today is often forgotten tomorrow.
I wanted to take this time to remember someone, a man whose name was all over the news and internet a little over a month ago—Troy Davis. I’m sure most of you are familiar with Troy, his case and how was eventually executed by the state of Georgia on September 21st this year. You’ve probably heard about the appeals and support from celebrities, politicians, artists, and everyday people who felt that an innocent man was going to be killed. His execution date came and went and we all moved on to other matters of the world. While the spotlight was on Troy’s case it brought attention to concerns over the death penalty and racism in our society. It invited scrutiny to a severely flawed and biased justice system. These are issues that cannot be ignored and overshadowed and we can’t wait until the next man’s execution date nears to finally start making some noise. Troy Davis was on death row for 20 years, but it wasn’t until the last 2 years of his life did people start showing up in droves to support. I am not exempt either; I had no knowledge of the man until a few months before he was executed.
I’m not going to get into an elaborate analysis of capital punishment and why I’m against it. I don’t want to type up a bunch of statistics that reveal the appalling racial disparity between white and minority death row inmates, but I do want you to remember Troy Davis and what his execution represented. We must do a better job as a society of keeping our attention on situations like this so we don’t continue to repeat the same mistakes. The internet is an excellent tool for sharing information, but it is important to maintain a continued focus on news that no longer captures the attention of the masses.
With his last words, Davis asked for his family, friends and supporters to “continue to pray, continue to forgive and continue to fight this fight.” I can only hope that we honor his final wish. It was wrong to execute Troy Davis, but it would be tragic to forget him.