I’m at work, and I keep getting these collect calls from state penitentiaries, the first one was a male located somewhere in Washington State, the second, a woman from here in CA. I hear these peoples’ recorded voices and I can’t help but immediately think; they are calling a wrong number with their one and only phone call of the day! I want to answer, I want to ask if I can contact someone for them, I don’t even think about what they might be in for. I like to say my default action is empathy.
I can’t say the same for the rest of the world. I know there are people who mean well. I know there are those who go out of their way to volunteer, lend a hand to neighbors, but when it comes to someone bullying your child, where do you stand then? Does it immediately become an ‘us’ against ‘them’ mentality? Do you think about what that child may be going through that may cause them to enact such distress onto yours? I believe I know how I would respond in this situation, but as is often said, you truly don’t until it happens.
I listen to all of these true crime podcasts, some are rife with levity; My Favorite Murder (though some may find this gauche given the subject), which is a great distraction from the more serious and often devastating Sword and Scale, or the exclusively UK, They Walk Among Us. I wouldn’t normally say this is close company but then again, how many people will actually see this…right? But I find myself focused more on the acused compared to the the victim. Let me dig a little deeper here; child crimes are my absolute. I don’t care who you are or how damaged a human being you became due to experiences that were beyond your control, if you harm a child you are below the lowest of even warranting a second glance or thought. There is no excuse for that behavior, I don’t care if you are a parent beating you child and you think you are disciplining them, or those involved in all the other various and unspeakable crimes against children I hear about. Hard line; you are scum if you hurt a child. Now, when children hurt other children, or their parents, etc. That to me warrants some further investigation. I am not sure if one is born with a proclivity for violence, but I do spend a lot of time during and immediately following these horrific stories wondering if something more could have been done. If that child expelled from school for bullying you kid could have had just a little more attention, a hands on approach rather than feeling tossed aside by the teachers and the system that should have been there to guide them. How do we garner such empathy for those who do horrible things? Is it possible? I hear of some families, held captive by the devastation of loosing their loved one, in the court room they stand, facing the accused and say; I forgive you. What it must take, and I don’t know about religion because though that may very well play a part, I am not religious. I hold and practice empathy and compassion of my own volition, not because I think it will grant me entry into a heavenly kingdom, or because a text has instructed me to ‘do unto others’. I have lived these thirty-one years, subjected to a well meaning, though incredibly spiteful at times, grandmother (may she rest in peace) and an often unaffectionate, though dedicated, mother. I muse on the probability that I should turn out so opposite; emotional, sensitive, a clear empath. Growing up, I was quiet, terribly shy, and I missed my mum wherever she left. In my 20’s, I was a social butterfly, independent to a fault, engaged in risky behavior which would eventually catch up with me. I later became very selective with my relationships and friendships, and now I would describe myself as being the healthy culmination of an introverted extrovert. Luckily, I have found someone of equal measure, and when this world gets too heavy, we are more than happy retreating to our little home, with our obnoxious though lovable cat, reflecting on all the things we remain thankful for. The best advice I can give during moments of such monumental tragedy; never loose focus on your capacity for kindness.