Things we all say.

Ever seen something on the news and said “Man oh man, if I could get my hands on that guy, I’d…?” Did it make you feel better…give you a sense of control?  Did it, perhaps, make you feel less vulnerable?

I have heard these comments so many times, and most of the time I shrug it off, but sometimes, just once in a while, I want to truly challenge these remarks.

“Really?” I would say. “What would you do?”

If someone bullied your child, hurt your mother, broke into your home…if someone made you extremely angry for whatever reason, what could you do?

It feels so much better to think that we would take revenge and make the other person suffer more than we suffered, to be the boss in control of the situation!

Reality is so very different.  We don’t live in a society where we can just do whatever we want without consequences.  We can’t practise “an eye for an eye” and live happily ever after.

One of the hardest things for me has been watching James as I hear other men profess how they would take matters into their own hands and evoke their own justice. Somehow these statements imply that we (him), as victims of crimes, should have done something differently, that we should have sought out those who killed Stefanie and taken revenge, as if James wasn’t “man” enough to take matters into his own hands.

Of course, I know that most people only say these things to express their very human outrage and empathy with us as victims of such a senseless, brutal crime, and also because often in this country people feel our justice system is heavily weighted on the side of criminals.  Still, somehow our impotence becomes highlighted by these remarks and begs the question, “what would most of us do”?

First of all, no one knows what his or her reaction would be in the face of any situation. Taking the law into one’s own hands is one route to go, but what would be the consequences? There could be a temporary feeling of satisfaction that comes with revenge—inflicting severe pain on a deserving criminal—but what then? Would it really teach them a lesson so that they would never offend again? Would it change anything…magically restore a beloved life? Would we feel better about ourselves for having sunk to the same level of depravity and inhumanity as the one who hurt us?

I seriously doubt it. What I do know is that in our society, if we were to do anything like that, our own lives, already turned upside down, would be ruined.  I would have been mortified if anyone had harmed a hair on the heads of the two who killed Stefanie, especially if it had caused the legal case against them to be thrown out of court.  Every “t” had to be crossed and every “i” dotted exactly right, and thank God it was.

How much more difficult our lives would be now if one of us had wound up on trial for aggravated assault or even murder?  I imagine a life as a single parent, raising 5 children, already profoundly affected by violence. What a terribly personal way to learn that two wrongs never make a right, to say nothing of the lesson in morality we would have taught our children.

Reading this might make you wonder if something has happened recently to inspire this blog post, but that isn’t so.  I was simply thinking about all the different ways we re-victimize ourselves after a tragedy and this is just one more that we would do well to work through. No one needs to feel shame along with profound grief.

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7 Responses to Things we all say.

  1. Paul McFadden says:

    I have felt …many times that I should take matters into my own hands to those involved in the killing of my Nathaniel, I could not get at the killer himself but indirectly there is always someone who knows someone in prison…..He is suffering though….. we all know what prison life is like for the handsome young men…………. Karma is always working behind the scenes……. yes our prison system is to soft but if we did take the US approach we’d have to build a heck of alot of new prisons, the others who lied to save their butts are also feeling the Karma as I watch them sink to the lowest. I’m sure one is working the streets for his crack……. he actually caused my sons death by telling the killer to “Go do what you gotta do I got your back” I am just sitting back not gloating but watching Karma unfold .”with a snicker on my face feeling the Creator will understand “

    • patriciahung says:

      Paul, it’s too hard to live with such rancor all the time. Letting go has to be part of the journey. If believing in Karma helps, that’s a great way to let someone much greater than ourselves “take care of business” so that we can get back to taking care of ourselves and those who love us.

  2. Paul McFadden says:

    I believe the Karma comes from the Creator the true GOD who takes care of everything.. I don’t think much about these people who took my sons life they are not worth my time!

  3. SadMama says:

    The problem I have with the Karma idea is that my son never harmed anyone and never would have. My husband and I have lived according to the Golden Rule all of our lives. So, if there is Karma, why was my son murdered…and why should my husband and daughter and I have to suffer this agony for the rest of our lives? There is nothing for which we deserve such punishment.

    • patriciahung says:

      I think Karma is carried forward from past lives. I’m sure most people aren’t referring to that when they speak of Karma, but that’s what I understand it to be. Some people think that we decide our lives before we’re born, to learn and grow, and do it again and again. If, in heaven, they were looking for someone to help others survive tragedies, I would have volunteered immediately. If someone had been asked to volunteer to teach me, my daughter Stefanie would have raised her hand. I like to think of it in those terms, it makes it easier. Because Stefanie has been my greatest teacher and since none of us can know what the truth is until we’re there, I choose to believe she loved me that much.

  4. Chris Jones says:

    Perhaps because I have a daughter who was a year younger at that time of your daughters terrible murder have I kept her in my thoughts since 2008. “How could I have dealt with it” was a nagging question I pushed out of my mind quite often. The other part was the “violence by proxy” aspect which seems to me a special category of relationship conflict mostly practiced by women. You have my best wishes for you and your family.

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