There is a certain comfort in seeing the world as a black-and-white place, especially as far as perfection and morality are concerned. But if you live long enough, openly enough, you see that the world is a very grey place indeed. This is a conclusion with which we are confronted when we make the decision to accept parricides unconditionally.
In instances in which extreme physical and emotional abuse has happened, it is easy to justify giving kids who kill a second chance. Many, if not most, are survivors. They are more courageous than we ourselves might have been if placed in the same circumstances. But sometimes, many times, the circumstances are less clear and harder to justify. More grey. Even light grey or, rarely, even white.
Most of us are hard-wired not to harm our parents and caregivers. It is inconceivable to most of us to strike out against a parent or grandparent, even a foster parent, however strict, abusive, or incompetent such an individual may be. Some of us are less tolerant of imperfection than others, especially kids who are conditioned to expect perfection in an imperfect world.
I have learned three things through my experiences with parricides.
First and foremost, it is not our place to judge. Sometimes kids with a lot of potential are capable of particularly heinous acts which are difficult for most of us to justify. Even judges should approach judgement with extreme caution. With young people, especially, one cannot know with certainty what is in the mind of a child.
Second, personal insight into what one has done as a child comes with age and maturity. I am not advocating that young people should get a “free pass” to murder simply because of their ages, but the excessively-long sentences for juvenile parricide which have come into vogue in the judiciary serve no constructive purpose for either the child or society. Our “corrections” systems are so flawed, sentences that extend beyond the age of full brain development (usually age 25) are truly cruel, inhumane, and counter-productive.
Third, for true rehabilitation to occur, society must trust that the young person him or herself will in most cases take a continuing hand in reviewing the justification (or non-justification) of his/her act of murder, and do so better than a long penal term will. It never ceases to amaze me how often parricides mention good experiences with their parents, even those they killed.
There are two more things I believe. The first is that unconditional love and acceptance are what these kids deserve… not out of any judgment of what they have done, but because these are the birthright of every person. Second, that it is their very imperfections which should be loved. Perfection does not exist in life anywhere but fiction. Imperfection is endemic to all human beings.
Groove of the Day