Guilt is not yes or no

For whatever reason, our justice system is set up to find someone “guilty” or “not guilty.” There is no option for “kind of guilty.” I trust that the people that set up the system knew what they were doing better than I would, but I just want to say sometimes the extreme polar conclusions of “guilty” or “not guilty” can be unhealthy in everyday thinking.

We all play our part in an interconnected system in which one’s actions can rarely be isolated and wholly to blame or not.

When someone is rear-ended, in our system it is automatically 100% the person in the back’s fault. But what if the person in front was texting and didn’t see a hazard until all they could do was slam on their brakes. Might they be 25% at fault? Our justice system doesn’t make room for that. But that doesn’t mean we need to slip into that isolated type of thinking in our daily decisions when thinking about the situation.

When there is an accusation of rape and it’s very debatable whether or not the woman wanted it or not, the accused man cannot get a “66.66% guilty conviction” even if she only communicated she didn’t want it with 33% clarity. So it’s possibly inaccurate if, in our minds, we need someone to be %100 at fault. Our courts are forced to pick a verdict wholly on one side or the other, but it doesn’t mean we need to slip into that thinking as well.

In the church there’s that debate about women dressing provocatively. Is it the man’s fault or the woman’s fault if the man lusts (or the roles could be reversed, of course). Well, whose fault is it? I think it’s not only one or the other. If she’s wearing a low-cut shirt bulging with cleave, she fully has a right to do that, but it definitely doesn’t make it easier on the man. He has to amp up his resistance (which is what he should do) but he is more likely to fail and it was because of a choice she made. It’s easy to slip into thinking things are wholly his fault or her fault, and maybe that’s because how our court system has done it. But both play a role. We’re part of an intricately intertwined and interdependent system and whether we like it or not, we need to consider each other, and how our actions will effect those around us. Sometimes we can’t just back away saying, it’s not my fault because I wasn’t the person who lusted.

And the oh, so heated debate on police racial violence. Recently the killing of Philando Castile. I am so, so sorry a man died because confusion and fear crashed together. There was an unclear dialogue in which both parties believed different things were being communicated. Both felt threatened, and the one with more authority and power killed the other. If a 100% guilty or non-guilty verdict has to be achieved no wonder one man dying and one man walking totally free feels a tragedy to many. Isn’t he AT LEAST somewhat guilty? But having to apply a polar decision to a very unclear and analog world, even IF he were only 49% the guilty party in the situation, they have to choose “not guilty.”

I have no idea what were the intentions or biases of Philando, nor officer Yanez’. That heavy job of determining that was designated to the jurors. I don’t know who was at fault, but that is not my point.

I just want to insert into the modern day philosophy that, even though the justice system operates on %100 guilty or not guilty, it doesn’t mean we have to do the same in our daily decisions. We can rarely shuck off all responsibility in any manner simply by saying well, it’s totally someone else’s fault.

We are all part of this system. We all have our perspective, and a responsibility to do our best to understand others and do good by them. If I’m texting in traffic, I’m putting everybody at risk, even if the guy who rear-ends me gets stuck with the whole ticket.

We’re all, in a very small part, at fault for everything because we have an effect on our friends and family. And they have an effect on others, who have an effect on others until that includes everyone in the world. We are all a part of the system which produced it. We must be careful to fall into the mindset that I have no fault in any manner. I am part of the system. We all depend on each other.

It’s rarely guilty or non-guilty, even if that’s how our justice system has to operate.

Raw Spoon, 6-18-17

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