Saturday, September 10, 2011

And what is the worst...?

Among the many, many consequences of my experiences in recent years is that I notice now that I am not at all quick to judge anyone who stands in the public eye, accused of some crime or another. I have come to realize that "innocent until proven guilty" does not come naturally to the human animal. As a species, we prefer to bay for blood when it is offered, and we're not good at putting ourselves in the designated victim's shoes. That legal principle, a presumption of innocence, is woefully fragile.

I came across an interview in the Canadian National Post of Conrad Black, the ex news mogul brought low by fraud charges. He protests his innocence. (But they all do, don't they?) He has written a book. (They don’t all do that.) He claims “my contempt for almost all of them is almost, but not quite, beyond my powers of expression”. I know how he feels.

Black is a Roman Catholic, and also says: “I accepted [the Pope’s] view that life is a cruciform, and we all suffer personally or through natural disasters, though we don’t know why. And only those people who have some faith imagine that there is a reason at all. It is a stern message, but it need not be a grim one — because it shows that there is some intrinsically worthwhile aspect to coping with suffering. At a certain point, there is no practical alternative. You either resist it and fight on or you roll over and give up.”

I'm not sure that I entirely agree with this. It gets damned close to the approval of suffering, and I'm pretty sure there are some Roman Catholics, and others, out there who rationalize not being a good Samaritan on that basis. It seems to me that a humane duty is to do one's best to relieve suffering. On the other hand, I recognize Black's position as that of someone doing his best to make sense of a very painful phase of his life (and it is not over yet). I've been there. Again, I know how he feels.

Buried in the comments, I found this:

Conrad Black's story has implications for each of us that I haven't seen in the other posts here, so I'll mention one, the most important being what happens when someone you like/love/respect becomes embroiled in a difficult situation, suffering the loss of reputation.

Whether that person is guilty or not, friends disappear out of fear of association. Partners/associates run for cover. When someone you know suddenly falls from grace, or fails as a person, what to do? In the confusion of the moment one learns vital lessons about oneself, and life in general.

I don't mean to imply that I would run to the man's defence, if he were a friend. But I like to think I would, and Black's life is a lesson from which to learn either way how to react to such situations. It happens in ways to everyone.

The worst part must be to see people you thought were friends, or who thought they were, betray you, and behind your back. Still, we have the worst system except for all the others. Imperfect people don't create perfect institutions; they run them, and what can one expect? Injustice is virtually guaranteed at some point, along with justice.

What can one learn from the life of people like Conrad Black besides just guilt or innocence, which is not always clear? That is the question.


"In the confusion of the moment one learns vital lessons about oneself, and life in general. " And what do we learn? If we have an ounce of self-analysis, perhaps the limits of our courage, or that our values are profoundly informed by our self-interest, or that our integrity is as fragile as sugar glass in the face of our social fears. Some of us, a precious few, might find that we are worthy of the trust our friends place in us.

Is the worst part the betrayal? I have to admit, it was brutally wounding on each occasion, but in the long term, I am not sure if it is the worst, although it is certainly close. In the long term, I think the worst might be the knowledge of the total waste that is characterized by such an episode. Only real evil would be pleased at such a thing (while publicly decrying it, of course).

"Al" gives me some hope.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Victimhood, a modern fable.

She wears her Victimhood like a mantle of fine fox fur, complemented by the jewelry of vulnerability, decorated with the finery of poverty.

The sycophants fall over themselves in their rush to her aid, bewitched and bedazzled by such a show so well matched to their ambition, such a wondrous opportunity to exercise their nobility for everyone to see.

With pomp and heads held high they march him through their royal court, glorying in the success of their hunt, the fox run down, the vermin caught.

Nobly, they cut her man down as, with a carefully crafted sob, she gestures his dispatch, “skin him alive, put him in chains, make him work, I want him no more”.

The empress retires regally and puts on her new clothes - the same as the old, but now with one more layer of fur and a bold sash to show her bravery despite all odds.

(In the corner, the only little boy who can say what she’s really wearing, struck dumb by the thought that she might do to him what she just did to his dad.)

Monday, April 04, 2011

April is Parental Alienation Awareness Month.

"Parental alienation and hostile aggressive parenting deprive children of their right to be loved by and showing love for both of their parents. The destructive actions by an alienating parent or other third person (like another family member, or even a well meaning mental health care worker) can become abusive to the child - as the alienating behaviors are disturbing, confusing and often frightening, to the child, and can rob the child of their sense of security and safety leading to maladaptive emotional or psychiatric reactions."

I'm beyond tired. Exhaustion fell behind years ago. I have seen it all: incompetent psychologists, willfully ignorant "friends", exploitative counsel, blatant judicial bias, rulings dripping with cynicism... You would not believe half of it.

It hasn't all been bad, I've seen occasional sparks of genuine concern, some from the most unlikely of places. (Indeed, the likely places have been uniformly barren.) I have seen real concern and blessed with some truly caring support and competent counsel. But it has been a losing battle, and the few victories largely Pyrrhic.

I have been places even I scarcely believe, both good and bad. I would love to spill it all out, but the audience is small and it would only be self destructive. ("Anything you say will be used against you...")

There are not many options left. The damage has already been done. There was nothing I could do to stop it. I could only attempt to prevent it being worse.

I found this today (here):

May God bless you with a restless discomfort
about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
May God bless you with holy anger
at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears
to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness
to believe that you really can make a difference in this world,
so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

Is this a blessing, or a curse?

Monday, February 14, 2011

The tree and the wall

Trying to raise a child while keeping him or her away from the other parent for reasons which have nothing to do with that parent's ability to help raise the child is like trying to grow a tree next to a wall which is buried deep in the ground. The tree gets only half the nutrients it needs. It will inevitably struggle and will probably end up stunted. We can only hope that eventually it will grow strong enough to slowly knock your wall down and take what it needs for itself. But it should not have to. In the end, all you have done is cause it pain.