Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Untipped Chair

Photo credit to ISNA, AP Photo/ISNA, Arash Khamoushi, fair use claimed

Greetings All:

This is Easter weekend, meaning Friday was "Good Friday."  For Christians, particularly us Catholics, it is a somber day.  It is the observance of the passion and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  

Pope Francis continued to preach to the faithful (even those cafeteria/drive thru Catholics like me) and reminded us that while he is beyond hip and as genuine as my oldest pair of Levis, he still is telling it straight.  His tweet:

"It is not easy to follow Jesus closely, because the path he chooses is the way of the Cross."

Whether you agree with him or not, he's telling it as he sees it.  

Moving along, at one point during the service, a 13th Century hymn was sung the recalled Mary, Jesus' mother, and her suffering at his execution by the Romans.  This is all part of the tradition of Good Friday.

The day before another tradition was taking place not too far away from Vatican City in Iran- a public execution.

Iran is not exactly a progressive place.  According to Amnesty International, Iran had hung 40 people in 2014.  Oh, and that's not by April, this was the January.

This post is not a critique of the death penalty.  That subject warrants one (or a bunch) of posts on its own.  I simply offer this as background to the photo that opens up this blog post.  That being-  the photo of another condemned man in a county that is not shy of imposing the ultimate punishment.

And unlike Christ, who went to his death with stoic calmness, this guy was freaking out.  He was scared (and understandably so, death is something I'm not anxious for myself).  It was all but certain he would die.  The noose was around his neck.  All that was needed was for the chair his shaking body was on was to be tipped.  Once that happened, well then, presuming the gravity was on, he was dead.

That chair remained untipped.

As the link posted below shows, the mother of his victim demurred.  All she had to do was tip the chair.  Just tip the chair and your son's killer would die.  Justice, at least by Iranian standards, would be served.

Then an amazing thing happened.  Nothing.

Well, not exactly nothing.  The victim's mother slapped her son's killer, and hard, I might add.  But did she tip the chair.  Nope.

Here was her chance to avenge her son's death (and have the state pick up the tab).  She passed.  Now as the article states, there was the matter of "blood money," an amount of cash the family would be paid to spare the killer.  Fine, I'll grant that's a reason to pardon the killer.  However, I will argue any amount of money mattered none to the pardoning mother.  What's my proof?  Look into the mother's eyes.  It reveals what happens at the emotional impact of a crash at the intersection of rage and grief.  Just my observations of course, but this mother could care less about blood money or anything else except the loss of her son.  I suspect she made a decision that even if the chair was tipped, her grief would remain.  

So the killer was spared.  The link below tells the story and you can judge for yourself if my comments are worthy of validity.  I will say this:  The fact that this pardon not only happened but this story got out tells me it is no coincidence.

It also tells me that the act of mercy of the grieving mother was not easy.  It was a hard road for to walk.  It would have been so easy for her to tip that chair.  To tip that chair and both watch and hear the life run out of her son's killer.  She did not.  She took the hard path.

I can't prove this of course, but I like to think that someplace else far away (or maybe not) there were two other untipped chairs.  In one, sat Christ.  In the other, the grieving mother's son.  They sat and watched the act of profound benevolence, watching a grieving mother pardon a crime.  A mother not so unlike a mother who was the subject of that 13th century hymn.  Two mothers, separated by faith, yet joined in grief.  

 I'm struggling with a clever way to wrap up this blog post.  I'm out of Schlitz.  All I can can offer is this:

1.  I don't think it is a coincidence this story broke during Holy Week; and

2.  We all have chairs in our life we can tip over or remain standing.  The challenge is to figure out which ones to walk away from.  It might not be much of a clue, but perhaps a hint may be this:  The one you want to tip over the most is the one that should remain standing.

Happy Easter.

Be well my friends,


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