On my way into the Dunkin' Donuts yesterday morning the newspaper headlines caught my eye. “BRAZILL GUILTY!”, it declared in 3” bold letters. Somehow though, I think that part of the headline was already written almost a year ago since this shooting death had been captured on the school's security cameras. The only real news was the jury's decision as to the DEGREE of guilt that would be placed on the 14 year old boy. The defense did not even attempt to prove their defendant's innocence, because the video was shown over and over again to the jury. Instead, their case was presented in order to cause doubt regarding the intentions of a boy who “didn't mean it”. And the jury based its decision of second-degree murder upon that reasonable doubt.
Now, what is it that brought national attention to a murder case in my hometown of Palm Beach County? I wish I could say that murder was a rare thing here in south Florida, but it's not … not even by juveniles. Was it because a boy was tried as an adult? Or maybe that the victim was a young father and a caring teacher killed at the prime of his life by one of his own students? Or was it the novelty of a murder being caught on video?
These things all played a part to be sure, but I think there's much more to it than that. I mean, we're talking about the same place that was in the spotlight a few months ago for holding up the election of the president. You see, in order to grab national attention a story has to somehow relate on a broad scale, for it must touch our lives in a gut-level way.
What I'm suggesting is that we have seen ourselves in this trial, and it troubles us, because we already knew the verdict was guilty. One part of us is angry because an innocent life has been destroyed by an obviously guilty party. We understand this because we have been personally impacted by the senseless deeds of others. We want the responsible parties to pay for the injuries - we want satisfaction. This anger is only intensified when the perpetrators get away with their crimes.
But it's not so cut and dried because we also understand what it is to be that person who is responsible for the evil deed because we have been caught in the act too many times to deny our guilt. Our only hope is to leave reasonable doubt as to whether or not we intended to do the deed, which is a skill we have all honed for as many years as we have been alive. The plea of “I didn't mean it!” has played a major part in all our lives.
There is an internal conflict of interest found in judging a boy who murders a man, for we're confronted with one who WAS innocent having been destroyed by one who SHOULD have been innocent. You see, because we inwardly hold to the innocence of youth, those video recordings destroy our hope for mankind. And if we cannot deny the guilt of the senseless crime that destroyed the innocent, do we take the chance of destroying even the slightest hope of restoring the lost innocence? The basic dilemma of this case is that we put humanity itself on trial, and with all innocence destroyed, the verdict of guilty was a forgone conclusion.
Now, the fact is that we spend much of our waking life caught in one dilemma after the other simply because we forget that humanity has already been put on trial and judged. In this ignorance we fall into trying that case over and over, again and again, in more ways than we would imagine. Or do you really suppose that the unresolved conflicts in your life are so unrelated to that one amazing act around which all human history revolves?
Reconsider the implications of the innocent one taking upon himself all the guilt of humanity and condemning it in his own body as he was judged guilty on our behalf. Reconsider the implications of the fact that the guilty life itself was destroyed in this one man and that his risen life is the only true basis of perception. Satisfaction is found in this, while all other perception is insanity.