Who are Henderson Hill or Don Eggleston to say that the murderer's children would hurt less if their father died from a painless execution than from some other kind (natural or otherwise inflicted) of death? Elias got to say his goodbyes to what was left of his family with dignity, which is a lot more than Teresa got.
The lesson to be learned from this case is that persons contemplating murder should more seriously consider the consequences of their actions. Now that Elias is gone, maybe persons who opposed his execution might consider advocating for victims of domestic violence (as a means of investing in prevention) instead of attacking a sentence.
Shifting the burden
I can appreciate the anguish of attorney Henderson Hill when he stated "tonight we punished four innocent children," but he has it wrong. "We" did not punish them, Elias Syriani did. He alone committed the brutal murder of his wife and the mother of his children and is responsible for any lingering repercussions from his behavior. We--society--were simply left with the burden of dealing with it.
The only legitimate way we can deal with it is though our judicial system, which can often seem dispassionate or even cold-hearted. However, emotional detachment is imperative to fairness. Why should a criminal with a loving and forgiving family be granted a different fate than another less sympathetic one? In contrast to the sympathy Mr. Hill pleaded for, anger and revenge are also emotions that must be considered when dealing with justice. It is not too difficult to imagine vigilantly justice prevailing if emotions were left unfettered and allowed to unduly influence society's methods of dealing with criminals.
Although I do not like granting our government the power to execute citizens, it is the law and it applies to everyone. Elias Syriani had full access to our legal system and was tried, convicted and sentenced. Neither his children nor Gov. Easley should be able to alter what happened in that courtroom. That would illegitimately transfer power outside the justice system and into the hands of individuals, thus altering the impartiality of the decision.
I am heartened that Elias Syriani was offered forgiveness from his children and that he was able to hold them and express his love for them in the hours before his execution, for both his sake and theirs. However, we must not forget that the entire chain of events began years also when Elias let emotions get the best of him and he viciously and repeatedly stabbed his wife to death. Emotions are powerful and can influence the good and the bad in us. When reason, fairness and justice are at stake, our emotions need to be measured.
Hope and glory
Hal Crowther has written a convincing defense of Harold Pinter ("Harold Pinter: No belief in happy endings," Nov. 16). His paean is very good, perhaps too good: There is danger in representing hopeless "courage" as virtue.
If Pinter had not been born into comfortable circumstance, he would not have enjoyed the "protection" and "padding" that nourished his courageous anomaly.
Yes, Pinter has found a way, but it is a way few can follow. Master Harold leads only to ends that are ultimately disheartening.
The poor of the earth are embedded in a matrix of faith that does not require a pie-in-the-sky sequel. Still, the poor harbor hope as the only proven path for transforming despair into joy.
Often, this transformation is "illusory." However, as a shrewd Talmudic proverb cautions: "We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are."
The bedrock lesson of history is that hope works. (One wonders why American utilitarians do not honor such evident proof in such a massive pudding.)
The final frontier of intellectual courage is to acknowledge the inscrutability of "origins" and "ends." At some level, this irresolvable opacity obliges us to choose hope or hopelessness, and upon the belief we choose, each of us bets his life. There is no denying that many people "dance to the music" without recognizing the composer. This revelry is a great and good thing.
Hal seems poised for breakthrough when he quotes "the smartest ex-priest I ever knew": "God is hope, hope is God. It's the only theology I know that works for everyone." But when Hal asks his friend "Hope for what?" he does nothing to engage the splendid reply: "It is its own object--like God."
Across the vast galleries of religious experience comes the frequent reminder that "Virtue is its own reward."
Do we need prizes? Do we need triumph?
Finally--even beyond Hope's Valhalla --we hear Augustine's foolish (yet irrefutable) reminder: "We know to the extent that we love."
In our Nov. 16 A&E calendar, the painter of the art on page 43 was misidentified; the correct painter of the piece, entitled "The Return," is Richard Garrison.