As I thought about it a little more, I tried to rationalize this outrage over a murdered little girl versus my relative torpor over thousands of victims of genocide, many who might have met their end just like poor Caylee Anthony but faceless and nameless. I felt guilty. On one hand was the memory of the unmourned dead and on the other the empathy I felt toward this innocent girl, her deplorable circumstances pushing through the mindless clutter of news because of sensationalism and morbid curiosity. Was my anger and disappointment disproportionate? Unfair?
Here’s what I think. If we were to throw ourselves into a raging blaze, almost immolate ourselves, but survive, what would we feel? I think we’d feel pain, but the shock of the experience would desensitize us. On the other hand, if we were to move our hands over the flame of a burning candle, the sensations would be similar to the immolation, but small and concentrated enough to comprehend, register and deal with. Perspective is easier when you have something to compare with. In this case, a painful hand versus an otherwise unharmed body.
Caylee’s murder is like that to me. It cannot be compared to the horrors of genocide, but it is an experience important for me to follow so I stay sensitized enough to develop or reinforce my perspective of right and wrong. I’m appalled by the decision of the jury but I applaud their objectivity in working through their biases and establishing the lack of a connection between the mother’s actions and the actual cause of Caylee’s death. I detest them for that objectivity because it doesn’t mirror my own feelings of righteous rage, but it teaches me that there is an inviolable framework of laws that is meant to mete out justice but also protect those who just may not have been responsible.
It comes down to faith. When a mass murderer, or the perpetrator of a genocide is tried and found guilty under the auspices of the same system that exonerates the alleged murderer of her own child, I won’t struggle to reconcile the two judgments because I have faith in that system’s ability to distinguish true wrong from right regardless of the scale of the crime.
And it’s this faith which keeps me sane. Angry at times, but sane.