In the last few months I’ve had a couple of situations that have left me uncomfortable and uncertain how to react.
The most recent one had to do with my love of books. There is a particular author whose Victorian mysteries I have thoroughly enjoyed reading. She does a wonderful job of creating the time period and the social classes and attitudes.
Because I do a lot of reading, I’m always on the look for new books–and when I was looking at choices for online reading on my tablet, I found a title with this author’s name in connection with a horrible murder. I thought that surely this must be something about how she got started in her writing…and it was–but not in the way I anticipated. Instead, it’s the story of two teenagers who killed the mother of one of them in a brutal murder in the 1950s. Interviewing people involved in the trial and looking at the documents that are available, the author of this book created a horrific story of narcissism and psychopathic behavior. The girls were found guilty and sentenced to prison for an indeterminate amount of time–eventually released. The daughter of the mother who was killed seems to have spent her life trying to make amends for her part in the murder…living a solitary life and eschewing publicity. On the rare occasions when someone has found her to raise questions, she has taken responsibility for her actions.
The other girl is the author I have enjoyed. Far from eschewing publicity, she has given interviews in which she seems to see the murder as merely a horrible teenage action…but instead of taking responsibility, she seems to have made a habit of creating excuses for her behavior. Granted that the upbringing of both girls was difficult–and this girl especially was both physically and emotionally abandoned by her parents at various significant developmental times in her life–this individual, while acknowledging that she had been expecting to be found for many years, seeks to place the major responsibility on the other girl and to excuse herself because of medicines and/or other reasons.
The other situation had to do with the breakup of a marriage. I had been sorry about it but had no knowledge of the reasons, nor did I want to. Eventually, though, I heard one side of the breakup, and while recognizing that there was undoubtedly another side to the story, what I heard seemed to place most of the blame on one individual. However, later I heard another side of the story–a very different one involving both physical and mental abuse.
Both of these situations have impacted my feelings toward the individuals. I’m not sure that I really want to read any more of the author’s murder mysteries…and I’m not sure I really want to see the other person again. I do believe in the power of repentance and forgiveness…but when there doesn’t appear to be any signs of that, I really have a queasy feeling in my stomach. Am I enabling repulsive behavior? Or–because there is no way that I can know the complete story because I’m not inside the heads of the individuals–do I treat them as I did before I knew more of their stories?
I’m not sure. It’s something I’m really puzzling over and trying to decide how to react. How am I going to feel most at peace?