Stories Matter. Compassion Matters
I think I see her fingers resting on his back. I believe I see her finger tips, white flesh faintly shimmering over his orange prison suit. But I’m still not convinced. But then yes there is her arm tenderly on his back and there are her fingers white on orange.
The depth of compassion it must take to raise one’s arm in a gesture of tenderness across a young man’s back who just pleaded guilty to 17 accounts of premeditated murder, 14 school children and 3 staff members? I am still searching to see if that arm, those fingers are real. They are. And they belong to defence lawyer, Melisa MacNeil.
How do defence lawyers dealing with such extreme forms of violence find the strength, compassion, courage, to lay their hands tenderly on violence of such magnitude. I hear these words, a broken child; a tortured abandoned soul; a system that failed him over and over and over again and I ask myself how do we hold people accountable for such atrocious crimes and yet still be able to see their humanity, their brokenness; see our own capacity to be ‘them’ if we too were born into their exact same lives, there exact same story lines.
I hear people say well there are many people who have endured the pain of Nicholas Cruz but they aren’t buying a rifle and shooting down a school. And i think yes and this is why stories matter. This is why everybody’s story matters; our complex personal, historical, religious, racial, gendered, political, social, economic, psychological, emotional stories. They matter. And perhaps this is where compassion comes from; perhaps this is how a hand is placed on the back of a broken boy who just murdered 17 other human beings.