If we lived in a world without tears, how would heartbeats know when to stop? How would blood know which body to flow outside of? How would bullets find the gun? —Lucinda Williams
The court cases I cover almost always force me to ask myself what I think about repentance, forgiveness, grace and mercy. Some days it’s pretty clear –a victim behaves in a way that is totally atypical, offering forgiveness and hope to the guilty; or the guilty makes a truly genuine gesture of repentance, having clearly turned around and forsaken the former action.
But most times, it’s just a muddled mess — pride and denial waging a battle on one side of the courtroom while anger and betrayal war on the other. Somewhere in the middle is a judge trying to sort it out and craft some kind of thing that will resemble justice in the end, whatever the hell that is.
Today was one of those days, I guess, where things were less clear, at least at the end. A particularly difficult defendant to see as a soul (he lured a pizza deliveryman to a robbery and then shot him to death) and a victim’s family worn out by all the drama and pain of the past few years. The case had more than its fair share of twists and turns on the way until today, and it kept it up right up until the end.
The defendant’s family characterized him throughout the hearing, and much of the case, as a generally respectful person raised in church and someone with a call on his life. The victim’s family begged to differ, knowing him only as the one who left their son and brother dying in a gutter.
Again, I was amazed at the callousness with which we treat each other, astonished at the blinders we wear in regards to our own behavior and that of those we love, and just generally saddened at the state of things in this place where the default is to grief.
I’m always glad I’m not the one on the bench. And it’s a good thing I’m not God.