Our brain is a marvelous thing. Sometimes, I feel like my body is an airplane and I the pilot. The body goes wherever I choose to go. But have you ever gone somewhere without consciously going there? I remember being under the influence of alcohol and going for a walk and then walking back home. Truthfully, I remember that it happened, but I cannot recall anything regarding the route I took. My brain was on auto-pilot. My brain knew where to lead my zombie body.
A few years ago, I lived in an apartment complex that had same-looking buildings, one right next to the other. This time I was completely sober. (Or potentially drunk on happiness. Too cheesy?) Coming home from work, I opened the gate and walked towards my apartment. I inserted the key in the lock, but the key would not turn. “What is going on?” – I wondered, twisting the key to the left and then to the right. After a while, I took a step back and looked at the apartment number at the top of the door. It corresponded with MY apartment number. “What the heck?” – I was stunned. It was then that I finally realized that I was in the wrong building.
Amber Guyer, a Caucasian woman, former police officer, was sentenced to 10 years in prison last week for killing an innocent African-American male. The incident occurred when the woman was coming home from work. The reason why she shot Botham Jean, who was having ice cream and watching TV, was that she thought she was in her own apartment. She heard some shuffling, saw a silhouette approaching her, and became scared. She drew her gun and shot the then-presumed offender.
Turns out, it was NOT her apartment. It was his. A chill ran down my spine when I read that. What if the door that I mistook for mine were open a couple of years ago? What if I entered someone’s apartment and was shot because they thought I was the intruder? Honest mistakes do happen. (Not that I am excusing her. I have no opinion on the shooting, because I do not have enough information.) Supposedly, she did ask the guy to show her his hands. I am not sure how exactly the scene played out. Maybe he got aggressive seeing a stranger with a gun in HIS apartment. Or perhaps she shot before she thought.
One of the articles on the topic mentions that the door was “not completely closed or locked due to a malfunction in the door.” Imagine approaching what you believe to be your apartment, seeing the door cracked open, hearing, and seeing someone. What would YOU think?
Have you ever heard about people forgiving those who had raped and/ or killed their family members? I choose not to even think about how hard this must be. How brave of an act it is. How selfless. In this case, the brother of the victim took the stand and said: “I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you. (…) I love you just like anyone else and I’m not going to hope you rot and die. (…) I personally want the best for you. I wasn’t going to say this in front of my family, I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you because I know that’s exactly what Botham would want for you. Give your life to Christ. I think giving your life to Christ is the best thing Botham would want for you.” He then requested permission to hug the woman. The judge granted his request. What a beautiful testimony.
Although there is some controversy surrounding the verdict (Is 10 years long enough?), the REAL controversy is in the events that followed the verdict. Judge Tammy Kemp walked out of the courtroom only to return with her personal Bible. She presented it to Amber, opening the book on John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The recipient of the gift outstretched her arms. The judge shook her head but then gave in and embraced the defendant. Was that not nice?
Some saw this as a beautiful display of compassion. Others, as “inappropriate, biased and potentially unconstitutional.” The Freedom From Religion Foundation even filed a complaint against the judge. Their argument is that it is unethical for the judge to try and convert Amber. I saw no coercion. It was a beautiful gift, which could help the woman during her time in prison and beyond. It was her choice to make. She could take it or leave it. Why make such a big deal out of it?
Some critics also brought race into this. They thought that humanity is too kind for white people. Does that mean that they are advocating for hate? You will not obtain equality by trying to put others down. Rise up! Try to make the world a better place instead of degrading it even more.
It is very easy to condemn people. It is much harder to see the good in them. Even if the good is so small that we can barely see it, we should still try to water and nourish it, instead of crushing it.
In the world of violence and quarrels, compassion might be exactly what we need.
What is your opinion on the judge’s moves?
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