Thought Exercise: The Condemned Prisoner

Capital punishment is now legal nationwide. You have been appointed to administer all executions, and only you can administer executions. For each execution you perform, you will be given ten million dollars.

During your time as executioner there are three guidelines you will follow:
1. You will never see or interact with prisoners in anyway.
2. You will not know what crime the prisoner has been found guilty of.
3. If you choose not to perform an execution, the prisoner will spend the rest of their life in prison
, and you will not be paid.

You wake up, it’s the morning of your first execution. You drive to the prison. You walk in, and a guard escorts you to a small room. The walls are made of concrete, the only thing in the room is a small box with a red button affixed to the wall opposite you. The guard tells you to press the button when you are ready. You step up to the box and press the button. A voice sounds over the intercom. Execution complete; Thank you for your service. You walk out and the guard hands you a check. You leave the prison, deposit your check at the bank, and go home. It’s late by the time you get home, so you go straight to bed; At which point you have a dream.

It’s dark. You’re standing in an open field. There is a full moon which provides enough light that you can vaguely see through the fog. The air is cold, and the wind is howling. Through the sounds of the night you hear screams. Cries for help echo all around you. You look up, and on a small hill you see a cross. You look closely and see the prisoner you executed hanging from it.

You turn to look away, and in front of you stands Jesus. With tears in his eyes he points to the man and says ‘He would have saw the light tomorrow.’ You close your eyes and ask, ‘Is there no way to save him?’ With sadness in his voice, Jesus says ‘It’s too late now.’

When you open your eyes, you are now hanging on the cross. You look down the hill and see the condemned prisoner standing next to Jesus. You realize that the prisoner is the one who asked the question, and you who were on the cross the whole time.

You wake up. It’s the morning of your first execution. What do you do?





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