Friday, September 08, 2006

Tender Mercies

Lately--and don't ask me why, those three people who view my blog--I've been thinking about Charles Manson and the Manson family.

No, not because I want to write a musical about them, although that would be something twisted that would cross my mind, but because I was curious as to what happened to the actual murderers.

Particularly, Leslie Van Houten.

If the point of sending someone to the slammer is to teach them a lesson, and to make them pay for the crime that they committed, then nobody has paid that price more than Leslie Van Houten.

However, I--like many--am torn about my feelings concerning whether she should get parole, or not. It won't matter for another year, as yesterday she was denied for the 15th time in the past 35 years of her incarceration.

The murders of the La Bianca family were no less gruesome than the Sharon Tate murders, but Van Houten has been a model prisoner, she's worked for good in the outside community, and she's continually flagellated herself, spiritually, mentally and emotionally for what she did so many years ago.

Of course I do not condone what she did. Who in their right mind would? But I think there are times when there truly is a conversion and maturity for an individual sent to prison for the most grizzly of offenses. I think of Karla Faye Tucker.

From what I've seen and read about Ms. Van Houten, I do not believe she's faking it. Whether she ever leaves prison or not, I believe she has taken the steps to admit to what she did, she's gone through the feelings of guilt and shame, and she's been able to separate healthy responsibility/guilt for the taking of life from debilitating shame.

I don't mean to seem blithe to the gravity of her crimes. She was a very sick person, at the time of her trial and conviction, but if the goal of imprisonment is the rehabilitation of those who are willing to take responsibility for what they did, then I think she's human attainment of that goal.

If I was held responsible for all of my deeds and words, when I was 19 or younger, I might not be here--free on the outside world--myself. No, I never committed heinous crimes, but I don't think I had a lick of sense at that time.

Well, let me get to the point of this post. I swear I do have a point. I know I ramble.

Anyway, I was cruising Blogger, searching for anyone who might have posted about Leslie's latest parole denial, and I came upon an interesting blog.

I wasn't looking for it, but God often shows himself in the oddest of places.

For a long time, I have been bereft about the state of organized religion in this country, and how much hate and fear rhetoric seems to fill the airways and blogspaces, both on the left and on the right. Nothing brought that home in a clear way than my partner's uber right-wing, conservative, blogstalker.

She's the kind of Catholic that I avoid; The typical rabid idealogue that seems to enjoy attacking those that don't act, think or believe in the same skewed way.

I was becoming prejudiced to the whole sect, in a big way, not just because of her, but because of the whole Priest/molestation scandal. The whole thing made me sick.

But I found the above blog. In it, I found a person who is a devoted Roman Catholic and makes no bones about it. However, my own biases were shattered, because this Roman Catholic is a compassionate and very intelligent Christian.

I found myself reading almost everything he'd written on his blog and enjoying every one of the posts. I don't agree with every point he makes, but our commonalities are much more prevalent than our differences on issues (sometimes, only in small ways).

Reading his posts gave me hope, period. Hope that there ARE sane, rational folks out there, who may have differing viewpoints than me, but who realize that we are one in Christ.

And in my cynicism, this is exactly what I needed to restore my own faith. Sometimes, it's the small things, folks.

It moved me so much that I emailed him. He truly seems like a really interesting person, and I hope we will keep in touch. I plan to continue to read his blog.

I urge all of you to do the same. After reading his blog and reading his subsequent email response to me, it made me think of Mary Gauthier's song, "Mercy Now."

We all need, whether we deserve it or not, a little "mercy," even Leslie Van Houten, and, well, maybe even my partner's former blogstalker. (I just gagged, after I typed that)

Mercy Now
By: Mary Gauthier
My father could use a little mercy now
The fruits of his labor
Fall and rot slowly on the ground
His work is almost over
It won't be long and he won't be around
I love my father, and he could use some mercy now

My brother could use a little mercy now
He's a stranger to freedom
He's shackled to his fears and doubts
The pain that he lives in is
Almost more than living will allow
I love my bother, and he could use some mercy now

My church and my country could use a little mercy now
As they sink into a poisoned pit
That's going to take forever to climb out
They carry the weight of the faithful
Who follow them down
I love my church and country, and they could use some mercy now

Every living thing could use a little mercy now
Only the hand of grace can end the race
Towards another mushroom cloud
People in power, well
They'll do anything to keep their crown
I love life, and life itself could use some mercy now

Yeah, we all could use a little mercy now
I know we don't deserve it
But we need it anyhow
We hang in the balance
Dangled between hell and hallowed ground
Every single one of us could use some mercy now
Every single one of us could use some mercy now

1 comment:

BabyBlogger said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and introducing me to yours. You are a fabulous writer!