“To err is human, to forgive divine.” Alexander Pope.
People screw up all the time, it’s in our nature. Now some people choose to not care and others pursue wrong-doing as a career choice…but what about everyday folk? As you read this, I would venture a guess that about 99% of you think you are “everyday folk.” Would you believe that everyday folk pay all my bills? They do, revenue from everyday folk keep my criminal defense practice afloat and provide me a nice living. We screw up small and we screw up large…and it is folks just like yourselves. So when you watch the evening news today…see if you can find yourself….then go one further, can you forgive? America can’t sit down to dinner thinking everything is wrapped up all tidy because the criminal was marched to jail.
“Judge not, lest thee be judged.” Jesus Christ
You might be willing to admit that you have driven home from a party “buzzed.” You might not be willing to admit that you were a hair’s breath from taking out a family of five at the intersection. My clients are young people with money in their pockets that steal make-up at Target. My clients are drunk professors that choose to drive home from the country club. My clients are bank managers that steal millions before their scheme is uncovered. Which of the three aforementioned is more of a criminal? Which one could you identify with if you knew the whole story? Which one did you quickly judge?
I have blogged before about mirroring….seeing yourself in the behavior of others….assimilating. For instance if you could see that I was born gay, that my thoughts were queer from about the age of four. It might be easier for you to give me equality under the law if you saw yourself in me. When was the last time you heard someone on the street corner yelling at a straight person….challenging that THEY were born straight? That’s a queer inquiry. Ask yourself why is that? Why did heteros criminalize homosexuality?
Screw ups are not born criminals…or are they? Are we? Did you drive 58 mph to work this morning? Well, that’s 3 miles per hour over the posted limit. Why did you do that? What’s that you say? That’s an acceptable breaking of the law. Whom among us makes that determination?
I talk to “normal” people in my office every week. They live otherwise “normal” lives, but an aberration occurred and a criminal charge was filed. I listen to the factors that preceded the criminal act. I assess the client before me. I explain the laws, procedures under the law, and possible outcomes to their predicament. They hand me money, and I begin to do my job. I do not judge…ever…even when severely tested, I have learned to work and not judge.
Some people belong in jail. Some people belong in jail for very long periods of time. I believe in punishment. I believe in humane punishment for those found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, in a court of law. With some clients I know that punishment is at the end of our relationship. My job is to protect the client’s rights and to get the best possible scenario for him/her concerning that punishment.
I layed that out for you because it is NOT what I want this blog to be about. Why do we screw up….why do we ALL screw up? Some get caught, some don’t….some think this blog doesn’t apply to them.
It is hard to go through your life and not commit a crime. If you just had the thought that you have done it thus far…I could prove you wrong in a ten minute conversation. You are a criminal. I am a criminal.
Maybe I want this blog to be about compassion. I don’t want you to be a bleeding heart liberal like I am, just a bit more compassionate.
They always give you the scenario where your daughter has been raped and killed. Could you kill her attacker with your bare hands? Sure you could, I will applaud you after you are finished. You are missing the point.
Start reading USA Today online and watching Brian Williams in the evening with a different slant. The soldier that took out 16 Afghans is your brother, your neighbor….he is you. Let’s agree that we are all humans and we are all criminals.
Compassion and reviewing the events preceding the criminal act will outline how to prevent the act from repeating. It will unfold in such a way a first-grader could understand it. Cause and effect.
I am not saying that given the same set of circumstances all humans will respond the same way….commit the same crime. I am saying that some humans will…it is up to the rest of us to do the work to ensure that there is no repeat cycle. It is in all of us. Why do we pull out of Iraq and some are already yelling to move on Iran. That didn’t surprise anyone…predictable. Will we allow it to happen?
People will always screw up. Basically because there are new ways to do it found every day. It is up to us to constantly be evolving, to recognize the predictors. It is up to us to mirror the actor and acknowledge he is closer to us, than not. You start to look down your nose and judge….nothing is ever going to stop. Let me know if you start to watch the TV news differently after reading this. Oh yeah, and watch your lead foot on the drive home today. You know that’s against the law…why do you do that?