What is Justice?

This post was started on 1-6-2013 and I just recently found it in my drafts. I am going to work on finishing it tonight though I am again not sure where I was headed when I started this. I just skimmed the article again to refresh my memory.

I have been ruminating on recent NYTimes article regarding something called restorative justice. You can read the article here. It will take you a bit of time to read it but it is well worth the read. I will wait.

Okay, how many of you are now thinking, “There is NO way that could be me?” I volunteered for the same organization as Kate many years ago and we “met” online. We have been Facebook friends for a few years and I heard of Ann’s shooting when it happened. I could not imagine the feelings of Kate, Andy and Conor’s parents. The feelings of sadness, anger and betrayal by a boy they loved and raised.

Reading this article has really given me food for thought. Just how one finds that kind of forgiveness in their heart is almost beyond me. Tragedy has touched my life in a profound way, also through a murder. In my case, it was a young girl, just barely a teenager. I had not even met her in person before but had Facebook chatted with her many nights and she was my son’s girlfriend in Cincinnati, as two teens who live an hour apart can be boyfriend and girlfriend. Much easier in the digital age in which they were raised.

It is hard for me to think of forgiving her murderer. Of being able to sit there and hear what happened. Feel it as if I were there, because that is what parents do. I feel sick, as Michael must have, reading of him stopping on the way to the hospital to vomit. I hear what Andy may have sounded like when he heard Conor talk about what he did to his daughter, how she cried out in a vain attempt to live. I get a pit in my stomach just writing this.

I know that holding onto anger and rage only hurts me. Not the person who has hurt me. I know that. I get that. I just can’t always get beyond it. A week or so after Esme was murdered, Michael was told he could not go to the local park. I just couldn’t do it. He needed to be home. To be safe. He went anyway. I found him and I remember yelling at him and crying, “I get to be over protective for a few weeks. I GET to be this way. You can’t take this away from me. I won’t always be like this but I need more than a week. Get yourself home NOW!” He got it. And I got over that … mostly.

Tragedy like this affects your life … forever. Some things will never be the same. I look at things differently. I worry each time Maggie walks to work. Or wants to go for a run. Or a bike ride by herself.

I admire Kate and Andy and Conor’s parents for having the faith and love and desire to get to the space of forgiveness. To know that this is for them as much as for Conor … actually, it is more for them than for Conor. I actually wish more of the world could move to this space of love.  It is hard for me to separate forgiveness out from punishment. I worry that forgiveness means no repercussions. This is another example of how that is not the case. Conor is serving time for his crime. If Kate and Andy did not forgive him, they would also continue to be punishing themselves. Carrying around hurt and anger does not do a body good.

Does this change what you think of when you think of justice? I used to be very pro-death penalty. Then I was very anti-death penalty. After a personal experience, I felt that I could be happy seeing that man put to death (he is on death row, if anyone wants to know). What constitutes justice? An eye for an eye? Turning the other cheek? There are many forms of justice. I hope to be able to get to this space some day myself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *