Ten Rational Responses to the Casey Anthony Verdict
You can't believe it. The American system of justice is broken. The country has gone to hell. You can get away with murder if you're pretty and white. People are stupid. Hang the jury. Fry the bitch. Lawyers are lying manipulators. Florida should secede. What about...Caylee?
Certainly, the Casey Anthony "not guilty" verdict Tuesday in the murder of her child is bewildering, and if you've been glued to the TV, which I haven't, and have invested hours of your time getting to know the entire sick lot of Anthonys and studying Casey's post-disappearance party photos, then it's an outrage. Your team lost the championship. Which cars can we set ablaze to show how dissatisfied and vindictive we are?
Trust me--I understand. I ate from the reaction buffet as well. But it occurred to me that it was an endless, all-you-can-eat hogfest. And it made me sick.
Several people (count me in) suggested to a Facebook "friend" yesterday that her frothing (and repetitive) cries for vengeance were hurting no one but herself, and that she really has no way to know what darkness that woman's eternal soul faces once she is "free." She deleted all our comments (we were accused of being pot-smoking no-brain hippies) and continued on with bloviating fury until I think even she was getting a whiff of herself. She pleaded to "think of Caylee," the dead child, as if she had been her babysitter. She, like a lot of us, allowed another person's evil to ignite her own hatred, and we all know where festering hatred leads. And yesterday it was as if Groupon had offered a free pass to be a "hater" on the Internet.
Welcome to America, the Land of Overwrought Response.
Is there a way around it? A way to make such a blatantly unfair decision in Florida have some meaning in my own life?
If you will indulge me for just a moment, I'd like to suggest a few humble and dry-eyed things to do to get the taste of outrage out of your mouth. In the end, you may feel something entirely different from the caustic spew emanating from people who have anointed Nancy Grace as their surrogate conscience.
1. Forget all that nonsense about porch lights. That's not a tribute. It's like promising to buckle your seatbelt or flush the toilet when you're finished in memory of a child you never knew. Of course you're going to do it. It is meaningless, but it's easy (even pedophiles turn on their porch lights). Here are some real things that require a commitment, not a promise.
2. For a couple of days, read the newspaper instead of watching the TV. The Anthony story was on page five of the L.A. Times this morning, where it belonged. It did not get a special section. Think about it.
3. Go to Target (or wherever you can buy a toy) and buy a new doll and a new toy car. Bring them to your local hospital emergency room, and tell the nurse that you'd like to donate them for a kid who might be traumatized by a trip to the ER, either as a patient or a relative. I did that with excess gifts one Christmas morning, and a very happy nurse said it was a perfect way to calm a terrified, hurt kid.
4. Donate $25.00 to the Association of Hole-in-the-Wall Camps, for kids with serious medical conditions. The great actor and philanthropist Paul Newman created this organization and it was closest to his heart. It's pure love in action. https://www.holeinthewallcamps.org/SSLPage.aspx?pid=425. If you're really in the spirit, do it anonymously.
5. Donate $25.00 to the Los Angeles Times Family Fund Summer Camps for kids. http://www.latimes.com/extras/familyfund/.
6. Call a mom with a toddler and tell her you'll watch her child for a couple of hours so she can go somewhere and decompress. She will never forget you, and you will love her and her children for a whole new reason. I don't know what that reason is, but you'll discover it on your own. You can also do it for a single dad who could use a break.
7. Be more attentive to your own kids and grandkids. Take them out to buy a book for themselves, then go for frozen yogurt. Put your arms around them even while they're struggling to get away. Don't let them off too easily.
8. Volunteer to read at an elementary school library. All you need is a current TB test and a simple Megan's Law background check. I guarantee you will remember their expectant and curious faces, and no matter what their home life is like they'll see and remember a grownup who took a half-hour a week to care.
9. No man can say that he has truly lived until he has been a full-costume Santa Claus at least once.
10. My mother taught me that to say you hate someone means that you wish them death. I have excised "hate" from my vocabulary (except as relates to rodents and Black Widows), and have explained to my kids why hating is something that only hurts the hater. There are a few other ways to work out anger. It would be a double tragedy for a crime, committed by and against people I don't know, to eat at my own soul through my seemingly bottomless reservoir of orphaned rage.
If you did all ten suggestions, it would cost you at most $75.00, which is less than the price of one hour with a counselor, and the benefits are less self-involved and actually radiant. I won't tell you which (if any) of the above I have tried, but I hope that you will make a choice to lean into goodness and let me know what you find.
I promise next week's blog will be funny. I just had something I had to work through. Join me?