Let me paint you a little picture…
Imagine you have a child. Actually 4. For some, that may not be hard to do. For the rest of you, bear with me.
And then your oldest child was murdered by a complete stranger.
Then imagine that, just by chance, another complete stranger murdered your second child, killed them for no justifiable reason.
And just for kicks, let’s say with your 3rd child, someone in the neighborhood randomly came and beat them to a pulp, but didn’t quite kill them.
And now feel your blood boil. It’s been boiling, but now it’s ready to explode.
The desire of revenge growing in your bones. Pulling through your blood. Your DNA.
You said the words before anything happened to your children:
“If someone ever touches my child, I would… (fill in the blanks)”
“Damn the justice system, I would take matters into my own hands!”
And now that hypothetical has turned into a definite many times over.
And then you hear your family members and closest friends screaming:
“Go get him!”
The only issue is that the murderer of your first child, after several years of torment in the courts, was let go on a technicality. You see, there wasn’t enough evidence to convict because, well, there wasn’t a tape of the murder.
Or better yet, there was. But the prosecution claimed your child probably did something to bring out the inner-murderer of their murderer, so, well, they probably deserved it.
Sit in that discomfort.
Then sit in it some more.
Then sit in it some more. Let it stew. Let it marinate.
Then sit in seeing your first and second child’s murderer almost every day…or seeing someone who remotely looks like or reminds you of them (maybe they have the same hair color, eyes, etc.), and there’s nothing you can do.
You wanna throttle them. Kill them. Destroy them. You seethe in anger every single time you see them.
Yet you know if you take action against them, it’s over. No more time with your remaining children, spouse, family or friends.
Instead you decide to go to the gym. Or play some music.
Except now there’s no gym. No music. The gym has been closed. Your music and ability to play it taken away. No one to talk to. No one there to express that feeling to. You surely don’t have money to pay for one of those fancy therapists, and you don’t have an insurance that’ll cover seeing one of them. And because everyone in your family is feeling the same thing, going through the same collective grief, you can’t really talk to them. Your spouse lost their children too; your remaining children lost their siblings; their friends lost a beloved friend.
So your anger & despair sometimes come out in ways you don’t want or even expect them to. Maybe you lash out at your spouse or your remaining children. Punch holes in the wall. Kick and break the kitchen table. Not that you don’t like your walls or appreciate you kitchen table – as a matter of fact, you are grateful for the walls that hold up the house you live in, and eating meals at that exact table with your family is one of the only ways you feel some semblance of sanity and normalcy these days. It’s just that they were the closest things to you in your fit of anger you could take your anger out on. Until you find something more appropriate, whatever that may be or look like. You’ll keep your eyes peeled for that ‘thing.’
But in the meantime, you’re feeling so much, that pain, that hurt; that helplessness has GOT to come out. Somehow, someway.
You don’t think logically to yourself, “now I could just do yoga or meditate while I wait for the trial.” You also don’t find yourself thinking “I would love to have a chat with the people who did this, I’m sure they have a great explanation as to why they did these things to my children.” Or maybe you do when you’re calm. But you just don’t have the energy. You’re tired, overwhelmed, exhausted.
You probably think to yourself “I don’t know if I can live with all this pain. With all this grief. With all this sadness. With this heaviness. With this helplessness and hopelessness. After all the murderer of my first child was let go on a technicality, who’s to say it won’t happen again with the other two perpetrators who hurt my children?!”
And then you wait. And it happens again. And again.
No justice for your children. Their murderers, killers, perpetrators able to walk the streets free.
Now imagine that’s happened not only to your children, but one of your grandparents’ children, your great grandparents’ children, and so on. And you knew this through hearing those stories growing up, passed down from generation to generation – years of familial hurt, pain, and injustice.
Your family still waiting for a promise that remains unkept, broken, unacknowledged.
And now imagine me as an outsider (mind you, I only know you in passing, and have just heard about your story through hearsay, including about the damage you’ve done in your house) coming up to you in your anger, grief, hurt, pain, disbelief and tell you “Don’t be angry. Just wait. Let the justice system do what it is there to do.”
I continue to say to you “you need to chill. Calm down. Push your anger down again. Stop being so angry. Be civil with your anger. Trust me, it’ll be different this time around.”
And then I go on to tell you, even though I’ve never lost a child of my own – “you know what the best thing for you to do would be in this instance? First and foremost, don’t punch holes in your wall. Why did you even do that, punch holes in your wall? Don’t you appreciate your house? Because you seem pretty ungrateful right now. Same thing for your kitchen table. I thought you liked eating there?? I guess not so much, huh? Well, if that was me, I’d probably have gone to the neighbor’s house and caused some damage there. Better their stuff than yours!”
The only thing you can do is stare at me and try not to beat me down because, after all, I just don’t get it. I’ll never understand your pain. Your suffering. Your anger. And I didn’t think to ask you any questions about why you feel the way you do, how deep your pain runs…
And maybe now you start to understand the psychology of a protest.