||49 Practical Activities and Methods for Human
Rights Education > When tomorrow comes
When tomorrow comes
"If you judge others how this system
has judged you, it will make you no better than those who have
condemned you to death." Dwight Adanandus
|| Human Security, Media,
Peace and Violence
||This activity uses information sheets and discussion to
explore issues about:
- The rights of criminals
- The death penalty
- The protection of society from criminals
- The right to life
- The right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or
- To examine our preconceptions about criminals and reflect
on some of the implications of the death penalty
- To be aware of our own listening skills and how we
"interpret" information we are given
- To promote a sense of human dignity and justice.
- Copies of the handout "When tomorrow comes";
one per participant.
- A sheet of paper and pencil for each member of the
- Read part 1 of When tomorrow comes out loud to the group.
When you have finished, give people about 5 minutes to recall
all the main points and to write them down in their own words.
Then ask them to exchange sheets of paper with their neighbour,
to read each other's accounts and give feedback.
- Invite some volunteers to read out their accounts. Then discuss
the differences between the versions: did some people remember
more details than others did? Did some people invent details
that had not been mentioned in the original story?
- Ask people for their reaction to the story: who do they think
the narrator is? What has happened?
- Read out the newspaper cutting and part 2 of Dwight's narration.
- Now allow the pairs 10-15 minutes to discuss the new information
with their partners. Supply them with copies of "When tomorrow
comes" in case they want to refer back to points in the
- Then ask them to think about the following two issues:
- Did they find their opinion of either Dwight or
Nanon changed when they learnt that they were on Death
Row? How? Why?
- What do they think Dwight meant by saying 'If you
judge others how this system has judged you, it will
make you no better than those who have condemned you
to death!" Do they agree with him?
- Open the issue up for general discussion, obtaining feedback
from the various pairs on these questions.
Debriefing and evaluation
This activity can be used to spark off a number of important
and interesting issues which can form the subject of further activities
or discussion. However, it is recommended that in the debriefing
you stick fairly closely to the topics that the groups have already
considered rather than opening up entirely new themes (see below,
under notes for facilitators).
- Has this activity taught you anything about yourself? Has
it made you reconsider any of your previous opinions or beliefs?
- What do you think the activity was intended to illustrate?
Did it succeed in this aim, and if not, why not?
- What, if anything, did the activity have to say to you about
the right to life? Were there any other rights issues that were
raised in the discussion?
Make a note of these issues on a large sheet of paper or flipchart
paper for future use.
Tips for facilitators
In the first discussion (after reading part 1) it is important
not to give people any hint of the two men's situation: try to
draw out people's impressions of the characters, but without suggesting
you have any particular reason for doing so. The purpose is for
people to examine the two men's human sides, without knowing anything
of their circumstances or past history.
The point of people swapping accounts at the end of step 1 is
to give them an idea of the different ways that people may perceive
and remember exactly the same piece of information. It is worth
emphasising that this should not be seen as a "test",
so that people do not feel shy about their accounts; but rather
as a way of showing up different viewpoints. Try to ask for comments
from people whose account has differed radically from their neighbour's.
Ask why this may have been the case - why, for example, some people
remembered certain pieces of information that were omitted by
The activity itself will most probably raise too many issues
for a single session, so you should try to keep the discussion
along the lines suggested, rather than allowing people to get
carried away by debating - for example - the death penalty itself.
Try to keep the discussion focused on the two key issues of:
- The extent to which we, the State, everyone, are inclined
to "judge" people on the basis of something (we believe)
they have done. This is probably what Dwight has in mind when
he talks about not "judging" others as the State has
judged him (and Nanon). The State has effectively written them
off as human beings on the basis of something (it believes)
they have done in the past.
- Even so-called "hardened criminals" possess and
retain their inherently human characteristics - not only the
"caring and compassion" of which Dwight speaks, but
also the "frustration and depression" that Nanon describes
as a result of the confinement.
- When discussing the "right to life" issue, guide
the discussion around the issues of whether these two people
can be said still to possess the right to life - and if not,
how someone can "lose" such a right. Does anyone,
for example, have the authority to remove that right from other
citizens, even if they have committed a crime?
Suggestions for follow-up
Pursue the issues raised at the end of the
activity. Organise a formal debate or use the method "Electioneering".
Topics may include:
- Punishment issues: what is the purpose of locking criminals
up and/or of executing them? Is it primarily to protect society,
to alter the behaviour of the criminals, or is it revenge/ retribution?
- The death penalty: what are the arguments for and against
the death penalty?
- The security of the nation vs. security of the individual:
what are the limits to the way a government may treat its worst
criminals or terrorists? For example - can torture of an individual
justified on the grounds of "security of the nation"?
Take a take a look at Nanon's own website, http://home4.inet.tele.dk/lepan/lene/nanon/,
and at the Nanon Williams Support Association, http://www.nawisa.org/.
You may also like to demonstrate your solidarity with people
fighting for the right to life with the activity, "Balloons"
in the all different all equal education pack.
Ideas for action
Visit the web site of the Canadian Coalition Against the Death
Penalty (CCADP) and read more of the prisoners' writings (www.ccadp.org).
Then write to someone on Death Row (the ccadp website contains
information on how to become a pen-pal or contact your local association
of Amnesty International).
Note: the full piece (When tomorrow comes) can be found at the
CCADP web site.
comes, by Nanon Williams
"It was a day after Dwight Adanandus died when I
truly looked at life completely differently than what it
was, or shall I say, what I wished it to be. This was the
beginning of winter, and as I lay still thinking of a friend
that always presented a smile when the days seemed so redundant,
I felt tormented. As I gently moved, picking up the newspaper
under the door, the paper told his story.
Reading about it and knowing I would never see him again
felt like someone was sticking pincushions in my heart over
and over again. Sometimes he would come swinging into the
yard yelling, 'What's up youngster?' And I would look around
me, stare back, and say, 'Man, who you calling a youngster,'
and we would both start laughing because I was the youngest
person on our block. And when I think of those moments now,
well, it deeply saddens me, because I'll never look forward
to being in the yard without Dwight being around to break
the creases that riddled my face with anger.
As the years have gone by, my methods of passing time
has changed, but I like to think these new methods will
hopefully make me become a better man one day like Dwight
became. During my moments of weakness, I always find myself
wondering what Dwight would have done.
'Remember,' he would say to me, 'The system can only get
to you if you let them. Make your peace with whoever your
God is and start to live life the best you can and appreciate
it.' Then he would continue, 'Youngster, I don't know why
you're here, but I know you don't belong here...'
`....... In fact, no one belongs here, not on death row.
You have rapists, kidnappers, robbers, child molesters and
sadistic people who don't give a damn about you. However,
you also have caring and compassionate people who have done
those very same things, but have found a way to change and
I want you to always remember that,' he said to me weeks
before he was executed. 'Remember this if nothing else.
If you judge others how this system has judged you, it will
make you no better than those who have condemned you to
death!' And as those words ring in my ears now, I wonder
why it has taken me so long to understand what he meant.
Of course I heard what he said and it made sense, but making
sense and fully grasping the meaning of those words was
something totally different. I guess then I was the youngster
he called me, but the truth hurts when you finally take
the time to see it.
I know the confinement is all a psychological weapon of
torture that builds frustration until depression sets in,
but somehow the spirit and the will to continue remains
in a few. For Dwight, he had that spirit no matter what
he did that placed him on death row and with that spirit
he changed other's lives who rot like living corpse in the
system's graveyard. 'I know it's not easy Youngster,' he
would say. 'But nobody said life was easy. Take each day
for what it's worth and as long as you can see a light at
the end of the road, let that be the strength that guides
you,' were the last words he ever said to me tearfully as
he said his final good-byes. I dare not to explain what
that means to me, as I guess he said it to me so I can find
my own strength that sustains me through the years that
have passed and probably the years to come. I have never
forsaken my principles or the things that I value most in
life - like my family, so more than likely that love and
one day entering heavens gates, is what tomorrow really
is when it comes."
Nanon Williams was sentenced to death by the State of
Texas when he was 17 years old, under the charge of capital
murder. He denies the charge and has spent the last nine
years on Death Row.
Huntsville - October 2, 1997. A convicted robber was executed
Wednesday night for gunning down a San Antonio businessman
who tried to stop him from fleeing a bank hold-up nine years
ago. Adanandus, 41, went to death row for killing Vernon
Hanan, who was shot in the chest January 28, 1988, as he
wrestled with Adanandus in the foyer of a bank on San Antonio's