Tucked away in the Italian hills north of Rome is a little town called Monteflavio from which one can see the ruins of a Medieval village, the original Monteflavio, which was abandoned after a family feud led to the death and dispersion of the citizens.

As a bit of fun, let’s imagine that Monteflavio was where the Montegue’s and Capulet’s lived and imagine what Romeo and Juliet would have been like if the story would have ended differently. I imagine it like this: Lady Montegue blames Lord Capulet for his inability to control his son as the cause of her daughter’s death, Lord Capulet (enraged at being blamed for his own son’s death) orders the murder of Lady Montegue’s servant, Lady Montegue retaliates with the execution of a Capulet servant, and the friar and the nurse are both killed for having known about the love affair all along and not stopping it. The town, furious about the death of their priest and medical caregiver, begin to take sides in the feud until all families have blood on their hands.

I can’t help but think that Monteflavio was deserted because neither family was able to realize that justice does not have to involve the death of the other. That’s what the problem is with capital punishment today. It’s not that it’s intrinsically wrong as a way to maintain justice and order; the problem is that it’s outdated. We should be advanced far past it already. The purpose, after all, is to protect society; so I think if we can put a man on the moon, we should be able to keep a man locked up so he can’t harm anyone anymore. (Whether we can actually help the criminal to correct himself and change his life is yet another step, but it looks like changing our affinity for the guillotine is the first step.)

If we keep killing everyone who tries to harm us or who has harmed us in the past, we’ll go back to the vendetta-driven, family-feud-fostering type of society that was the destruction of Monteflavio. Perhaps in the future we will have to look on the ruins of our old abandoned town from our new one like the citizens of Monteflavio, or maybe we can save our town before abandonment becomes the only viable option.

Photo Credit: foamcow