I saw a photo on Facebook recently of a man’s bruised and bloody face. Apparently, he had been caught peeping at a 15 year old girl whose father caught him, resulting in the picture that was posted. The caption read “like if you think this man deserved this”. My reaction was yes, he did deserve that. If that was my daughter, I probably would have been capable of that or, at the least, turning him into the police. As a peeping tom, I think he did deserve that. My second thought was that as a human being, he deserved to get help.
In my opinion, there are people who should be in prison for the rest of their lives (not necessarily this guy I’m talking about today) – they have proven to be just too dangerous to be set free. This doesn’t put them beyond our compassion though. Because trauma, abuse, lack of nurturing, and other things are likely part of the past of people who do horrible things, we can’t close our hearts to them. We would all be capable of the same things given their history.
I also believe that when we show compassion, we are more likely to be given compassion if and when we need it. Love and compassion do not equate excusing and allowing people not to take responsibility – on the contrary, they mean holding up the truth, bringing things out in the open, showing people how to be accountable, and giving them grace. This probably won’t come from the person that was harmed (although it could), but maybe from a family member, prison worker, chaplain, or counselor. Grace doesn’t always mean freedom, but it does mean showing people how to make amends as much as possible and move on. It shows them that people can change and gives them the tools and courage to attempt to do just that. It forges a connection when in the past this person might have never felt connected to anyone. And I believe that it is in that connection that miracles can occur.