Category Archives: Death

What Justice? Where?

It is my opinion that the justice system does not, and will never work.

Take the Stayner brothers for example.  7 year-old Steven Stayner was abducted by Kenneth Parnell, kept in captivity and sexually abused for seven years before he escaped.  The return to his family was fraught with adjustment difficulties.  The family did not receive trauma counselling.  Sadly, Steven died at the age of 24 in a bike accident.

The older brother, Cary Stayner, later landed up on death-row as a convicted serial killer.  He was sexually abused during his childhood but never told.

Kenneth Parnell was a paedophile with previous convictions and sentences.  For the Stayner kidnapping he received a seven-year sentence of which he served only five.  After his release and already quite advanced in age, he tried to buy another little boy.  For this he was sentenced 25 years to life under California’s three strikes law.  This law and not his crimes, finally removed him from society.

A stranger tale cannot be conceived but it serves to highlight some problem areas:

  • The Accused.  How is man with Kenneth Parnell’s background given seven years for the crime he committed against Steven Stayner?  He received equally light sentences for his other offenses.  It is because they only charged him with the kidnappings, never for the sexual offenses.  We must keep in mind though that some things have changed since the 70’s.
  • Defence Liars (exceptions excluded).  Who defends a man like Parnell, and why?  Okay, so the court appoints an attorney to defend the accused because every man has that right, and is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  But to defend him as though you want him back on the street?  As though he is innocent?  Come on!  And if a Liar is highly paid for defending someone like Parnell, his crime is the greatest.
  • Counselling.  Would Cary Stayner have turned into a murderer had he received trauma counselling?  For something as little as an armed robbery my family had to.  It is virtually impossible to deal with trauma, to file away what had happened and to have a healthy mental outlook afterwards without it.  Apparently it was offered to the Stayner family at some point, but rejected.  Again, in the 70’s the importance of counselling was not yet understood.  Of course I do not know if Cary would have killed had he properly dealt with Steven’s disappearance but I do know that if the family had been helped to work through the loss and eventual return of Steven, they would have been better equipped to deal with their emotional losses and wounds.  Cary stated that he felt neglected during the years his parents were grieving for Steven, and this is normal in most households where parents lose a child.  In fact, the disappearance of a child is almost worse than a death because the bereavement never reaches its logical conclusion.  Cary also said that upon Steven’s return they had to share a bedroom and that he resented that.  He was jealous of all the attention and gifts that Steven received.   The child needed help.
  • Evidence.  The business of not entering into evidence ALL known facts about the defendant misleads the jury.  It is impossible for them to fully understand the accused, what drives him and what his habits are if half of the facts are inadmissible.
  • The Jury System.  It is difficult enough to have a husband and wife agree on important issues, how much harder for twelve people?  And ‘a jury of your peers’ is a laugh.  A peer is someone of a similar age, race, education and background.  Someone who can identify with you.  [Definition of Peer: one that is of equal standing with another: equal; especially: one belonging to the same societal group especially based on age, grade, or status].  It therefore stands to reason that in a shoplifting trial, real peerage would mean that the jury is made up of shoplifters.  Who knows?  Perhaps they would actually give a proper and fair verdict.  In a first-world society I believe that a judgement by a judge (????) is far more accurate.  A person with knowledge of the law and hopefully, a good insight into human behaviour.  In third-world countries unfortunately, it opens itself up to abuse like threats and bribery.

So what is the solution to the lack of justice?  I think that after examination it becomes clear that there is none.  We live in an imperfect world, populated by imperfect people who implement imperfect systems based on imperfect ideas.

Because of that we will always have those who are imprisoned innocently as well as the guilty walking free.  The only hope is if everybody, from the lowliest cop right up to the judge, and further onto the lawmaker, strives for the truth.

John 8:32  “…… and the truth shall set you free”.

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Blood is thicker than Water

We recently had a family funeral.  It had been 15 years or more since I had seen some of those cousins but there was that immediate kinship.  It needed no words.  It is a bond without explanation.  A blood-tie.

I love my cousins and I love the idea of cousins.  I have almost 30.  We make a point of getting together once or twice a year, just to catch up and to have fun.

Cousins are nice for many reasons.  You are not that close to them that they judge, but not so far apart that they do not understand.  They accept you as you are, they don’t backstab or bite.  They have no need to.  They are your blood.   They knew you as a child and they know the circumstances that shaped you.  They identify with you.  They were a source of strength through each family tragedy.  They walked together with you, in your family shoes.

Aunts and uncles will always see you as a child.  They frown easier, like parents do, because they feel that they have a vested interest in you.  They have watched you from birth and wish the best for you.

Sad though are aunts and uncles that become grumpy with age.  Life is difficult, sure, but if you going to sit at a family barbecue with a sour face, why come?  Stay at home and you won’t be irritated or annoyed, nor will the people around you be inconvenienced by your disapproving face and under-handed grumbles.  And hell, if you have become a vegetarian and do not eat bacon, bring your own food.  Don’t sit there and complain about what is on offer when you have contributed zip.

I had to laugh at the funeral though.  An older ducky approached one of my aunts and said:

“Mary, is that you?”

“Yes”, said Mary, “And who may you be?”

“It is me, Sarah, don’t you remember?”

“Of course I do Sarah!”

Sarah stood still for a moment and looked Mary over, from top to toe before exclaiming:  “My Mary, but you have gotten old!”

Mary visibly froze, then slowly shook out her feathers:  “Well Sarah, you don’t look to young yourself”.

“But Mary, you look ancient!”

By this time I was rolling on the floor laughing but neither of them noticed.

“Now listen Sarah, I am seventy-three years old, what do you expect?”

Sarah tapped her foot:  “But you look seventy-three!”

Mary was turning red:  “How old are you Sarah?”

“I am fifty-six”.

With a satisfied grin Mary looked Sarah straight in the eye and said:  “Well, you also look seventy-three”.

And that was the end of that.

Comical as it was, it made me realise that these two had not seen one another for thirty or forty years, and that they have long since passed the age of niceties.  They say it like it is.  And the appearance of the other was indeed a great shock, a realisation of time gone by.

I was sad that I had lost a cousin whom I had not seen enough of.  I was more sad for my aunt and uncle and remaining cousins for the loss they will have for as long as they live.  But I was grateful to find that the bonds with my family were still intact and that it will always be.

Because in the end, blood is very much thicker than water.


What about Them?

We don’t even notice them.  The marginalised, the down-and-out.  Tramps, orphans, AIDS victims, alcoholics, drug addicts, the neglected, human and animal.

They are nameless, faceless beings we pass on streets, or read about in papers.  They sleep under bridges in extreme weather, live in homes without parents, they are kept in cages and abused.

We can say that we care, but really caring involves doing something.  Just driving by and saying “Shame” is not caring.  It is a momentary tug at the conscience.

They are unlovely and unlovable, they contaminate.  They are unclean and pushed aside.  They cause guilt.  We do not reach out a hand, because they are there by choice.

But are they really?

The simple truth is, that there but by the grace of God go I.

So spare them a smile and a prayer.  It costs nothing.


What’s in a Dad?

Every child deserves the privilege of a Daddy.

A boy needs a Dad to teach him how to be a man.  And to do man-things with.  A girl needs a Dad to teach her about men, and how to be a woman.

Dads protect their children and deal with bullies.   When a little girl is born, Daddy immediately makes plans on how to handle future suitors.  Way ahead of time, he has schemes of revenge in place to deal with any guy who breaks her heart.

Daddies have safe laps for little children to crawl onto.  Without a Daddy, a child has no understanding of security and is prone to anxiety.

Dads build doll houses and fix bicycles.  They make the house nice.  They care for Mommies.

A little girl without a Dad has no understanding of men and their ways.  She has no one to warn her and protect her.  She has no one to teach her that love comes in many forms and that sexual love is not necessarily real.

A little boy without a Dad has to learn about women on his own.  With no example, he has to work out what it means to be a provider.

Little children without a Dad, or with a bad Dad, are adrift on an open sea.  Their only hope is in rescue by the Father of fathers.


My throw-away Child

She received a call from her dad.  Did she want a kitten because the owner was about to drown it.  She didn’t, so I took it.  It had snow-white hair and blue eyes, and I named her Nicola.  I fell in love with Nikki, who was a boy.

***

I swallowed a potion to remove the foetus, if there was one.  Late that night the pain started, and the bleeding.  Then there was a little blob in the bath.  In my drug and alcohol induced haze I figured that was the end of it.

But years later as I sat on my knees in front of the rocking chair in Kyle’s bedroom, it all came back.  My second son was just a few months old.  I prayed, prayed in anxiety and worry and care.  My thoughts were so wrong and muddled.

The scene changed and a man in a black suit carrying a child in his arms walked towards me.  It was my dad, dressed in the suit he wore the day he died.  The little girl was about 5 or 6 years old.  She wore a white dress with a yellow sash around the waist.  She was beautiful with blonde hair and blue eyes.  And I understood her name, Nicola.  My little throw-away child.

Nikki, I threw you away but you were scooped up into the arms of your Father, where you are waiting for me.  You have forgiven me and long to put your arms around me, just like I do.

I do not know what your life would have been like had you stayed, I was such a mess.  But I do know that Heaven holds a special place for little ones like you, unconsidered, unwanted and discarded.

Thank you, my only daughter child.


To all the dogs I never loved …

Gingi was a Pekingese.  We found her abandoned at the SPCA when she was 6 months old.  Pekingesies have wonderful personalities.  Not really lovable and grumpy when teased, but so unique.  Once you own one, you will be in love.

Gingi came into our lives before I liked dogs.  She had attitude, more like a cat.  She was always so proud of herself when she went to the parlour and loved climbing into nooks and crannies and drawers.

Gingi died before I could love her properly.  She managed to squeeze her way through the fence and got knocked over.  The driver never stopped and she was dead when I got there.  My family gave her love, therein lays my consolation.  But she started teaching me that dogs could and should be loved, she started walking a road with me which Danni (my Rhodesian Ridgeback) carried through.

Then came Ameé, the cutest little baby Pekingese.  I enveloped her in love.  She died in my hands at 3 months old.  Jessie was extremely tiny and had congenital problems from inbreeding.  She also died in my hands.  My road of learning to love was almost complete.

I fetched Cinnamon (in the picture) when she was 8 weeks old.  She was from the same breeder as Ameé and Jessie and had the same problems.  But this time I went to a specialist vet who saved her.  She is a princess too, just like Gingi and gets funnily angry when the kids tease her.  She doesn’t want to sleep with me, or cuddle.  She loves me on her terms.

And I realised that I, someone who regrets very little, regret not loving Gingi enough.  But I am so grateful for what she taught me.  That dogs are wonderful additions to a family.  They enrich our lives, they teach us, they are loyal and love unconditionally.

Gingi my little animal, if you were here today, you would have been queen.


I yearn for this Life to have passed

When I will be in glory without trials, tribulations or tears.  Where there will be only righteousness, peace and ecstasy.  Where my bottled tears will stand in remembrance of my sojourn here.

There will be comfourt and laughter and a joyful reunion with all of old.  Loved ones long not seen but ached for.

I know the streets are made of gold and all is new, but more than that I yearn to be with those I love, never to be parted again.

This world is ugly and unkind.  It is tedious and difficult.  It is with blood, sweat and tears that we plot our path.  Worthy to do, worthy to learn, but it too has to come to an end.

Oh what is the hope of those who can only see this here and now?  They are stymied in growth and but poor in spirit.  A life lived without hope is not worth living.  There has to be more to reach for, a hunger and a thirst that will not be slaked until the end arrives.

You who are dead, open your ears and widen your eyes but even more, unlock your heart so that light and life might flood in.

This is all, until it is over, then there will be more.