Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Harmon's Whispering in My Ear

     If you've ever had a mentor...someone who helped give shape and direction to the raw material that's you, you get it.
     The imprint of their counsel on you is not confined to time and space.  It's not like you had them in your life for a finite time and the benefit of their lives intersecting yours is subject only to your memory's recall.
     Like the voice of Obi-Wan (the Sir Alec Guinness version, please) that seems to come to Luke in the moment of greatest import offering the guidance so sorely needed, the mentors of our lives continue to speak to us even when they are no longer physically in our presence.
     I've been hearing the voice of one of mine the past couple of days--my friend, Harmon.
I written about my relationship with Harmon previously - click here for those posts.
     I think it started during one of the recent debates for the Republican candidate for the presidency.  It's the one than when the moderator, as preface for a question to the candidate who is the current governor of Texas, commented about the 230 some odd executions that have occurred during his tenure as the executive of the state.  The opportunity for the moderator to actually ask the question was interrupted by applause from the crowd at the mention of the number death orders this governor has signed.  Even more perplexing was the claim by most in that hall that they were disciples of Jesus.
     I heard Harmon whisper, "Jesus was once asked for his position on the death penalty.  He said, 'Let the one of you who is without sin cast the first stone.'"
     I've heard him again today as the state of Georgia prepares to execute Troy Davis, a man convicted of killing a Savannah police officer.  In a case in which:
  • the vast majority of witnesses have recanted their testimony, 
  • most of the witnesses commented that they were coerced by police hell bent to pin this horrible crime on someone, because, by God, somebody had to pay, 
  • the former head of the FBI has commented at how "pervasive and persistent" were his doubts about Davis' guilt, 
  • a former US President and the Pontiff have called for a stay, 
  • several jurors have commented that they would have voted differently,
  • the state board of appeals proceeded with their blood lust, which they mistakenly call "justice," and barring a stay from the US Supreme Court, Troy will die today.
     I hear Harmon whisper, "his guilt or innocence isn't even the issue, the state taking upon itself the role of final arbiter of who lives and who dies is beyond what any should have.  For the state to kill in my name lessens us all and makes us culpable for it."
     That there is a strong case to be made for Davis' innocence, I mean, really do I really have to spell out how screwed up this whole thing is if they're going to kill him anyway?
     I hear Harmon whisper, "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth is not license to kill, rather it is a code of reprisal that punishment cannot exceed the crime, but that the biblical standard is always to show mercy."
     He would remind me, "the Bible says that 'vengeance belongs to God alone, not to humanity.'  and that "regardless of what the state says 'justice' is, the biblical standard for what is just is not retribution, but it does always look for restoration and reconciliation."
     The wisdom mentors whisper in our ears is not something we've never heard before.  No, it's the words spoken by them in our past that ring so true that their impact cannot be overlooked and will not be ignored.  Our mentors whisper in our ears what we need to be shouting.
     This execution of Troy Davis is wrong.  The execution of even the worst of us is wrong.   We are better than the most base temptations we each have to get even and mistake that for justice.
     When the sentence is given for a capital case, the judge offers words as a buffer between the sentence spoken and the removal of the convicted to death row.  It's usually something like, "and may God have mercy on your soul."
     I'm here to tell you, the soul of the convicted is not the soul we need to be worried about.
I know this to be true, Harmon whispered it to me.

1 comment:

jkd said...

I agree with you. The execution upset me dearly.