On a beautiful Sunday summer afternoon, I spend hours watching a lengthy documentary about a trial in North Carolina. A man stands accused of murdering his wife. From the beginning, the police decide he is guilty and assemble “evidence” based on this premise. Forensic tests also betray this bias. The tests are devised to prove their theory. They are not open-ended. There is no room for them to be wrong. The man is found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. The remaining family is fractured by the ordeal. Members taking opposing sides. The accused maintains his innocence.
I do not know if this man did or did not kill his wife. . . but to find him guilty when reasonable doubt exists leaves me feeling uneasy. It is hard to acknowledge that the system that we rely on for justice can be as flawed as we are.
Harder still to see that it wasn’t the facts that made this case. People’s emotions, their biases, their fears guided their conclusions. I had to wonder what the prosecution might find in my life that they could frame in a negative light. The thought makes me shudder.
“Wait!” I say to myself.
“It’s not that simple,” my inner voice adds quietly.
The makers of this documentary want me to believe in reasonable doubt. What they put in this film is based on the conclusion they want to achieve in the mind of the viewer. Can I rely on this as factual information?
“No,” is the only answer.
The floor beneath me doesn’t feel as solid. The sink full of dishes looks intimidating. I see injustice everywhere. I begin to get crabby with the people I love not because they deserve it but because I feel confused, uncertain, and more than a little lost. My emotional reaction puzzles me. Frustration and fear weave themselves together. They become a hair shirt made of eyelashes. I put it on and suffer. Some times, I play the fool.
I imagine myself putting on the costume of a jester. Not a clown. Clowns are just too disturbing. I dance awkwardly before the throne and make jokes for royalty. In mid sentence, I see that the King and Queen look just like me. This world is all of my own making. It lives only in my head. The jester me laughs. So do the King and Queen.
Laughing, I begin to weave a tall tale.
In the deepest and most dramatic voice I can muster, I begin to talk.
“I was hatched in a land of Black and White. ‘Do not see colors’ everyone said. ‘This is the way things are. The way they have always been. Only fools question. Only fools believe in something else.’
Jester me punctuates the tale with interpretive dance. I jump and stumble and twirl like a mad ballerina with no talent. The King and Queen clap their hands together and stomp their feet overcome with laughter. It’s a joke only we seem to understand but suddenly it is a joke no longer. We become as sober as hangmen. I start to cry. The King and Queen join their tears to mine. We know the isolation of living in a world filled with the colors of the rainbow that must not be spoken of or acknowledged in the land of Black and White.
We cry giant tears of stone. Sobbing, we gather them. We want to build a bridge but we don’t know how. We want a way out. We want a way back in. We love many of the people in the land of Black and White but we can’t live here. We move without direction or purpose fighting against what we already know: It’s all make believe. The Land of Black and White, Rainbow World are all fiction. Fiction comes very easily. Truth is so hard to grasp. It seems to live in a dimension we do not. We push against the tears of stone without moving them. Only fools believe in something else.