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November 28, 2012 / Ronald Chapman

Innocence Interpreted

“Okay Kevin. Let’s get real. A serial murderer is innocent? Who’s going to buy that?”

Pitcairn laughed. “Yeah. It seems likes a stretch to me too at times. But with everything we’re learning about genetics and psychology, increasingly it sure looks like things are at work within us that we don’t really have any control over.”

“But the whole foundation of human civilization is based on the presumption that we have choice. Are you saying that assumption is wrong?”

He had to think for a moment. “Lenny, I guess I really don’t know. Maybe we have the potential to choose but until the potential is realized there is no choice. Look at everything we’ve learned about addictions. Once you’re hooked, there’s no choice. And most people who end up with problems start drinking or smoking or doing drugs before the age of fifteen. Evidence is now coming forth that the ability to make good decisions doesn’t develop in the brain structure until the late teens, if not later. That’s why the cigarette manufacturers target kids. They know they don’t have good reasoning skills. Did you know that something like fifty-seven percent of kids who get hooked on smoking will die as smokers? There’s no choice there.”

Pitcairn knew that Morris brought abused children to his ranch every summer for camps with professionals intended to help them heal. The look in the broadcaster’s eyes told him he had struck a chord.

“How’d you learn all this, Kevin?”

“Not by choice,” he said. “I’ve been researching all kinds of things since the day I received Daniel Davidson’s letter. It’s been enlightening to say the least.”

“So, no free choice?”

“Only the potential, I think. I mean, who knows. But how about the kids you bring to the ranch? I hear some are severely abused. After all that, can they choose to trust you? Or even this experience at the ranch?”

Morris peered at him before answering. “Not fair, Kevin. You’re talking about my kids. And I’m quite partial to them.” Then he smiled at him. ”But you’re right. The worst cases result in kids who have a terrible time trusting no matter what we do.”

“You don’t judge them for that do you?”

“Hell, no! We’re really patient. It’s the only solution.”

“I agree. That’s the point. Those kids aren’t choosing to not trust. It has to be reawakened in them. And for some it doesn’t work. And for the majority that never get any assistance, they become adults who can’t trust, a large number of whom become abusers themselves.”

“But some don’t become abusers. What about them? Do they have choice?”

“I don’t know, but one psychologist says that some of us have resilience and some of us don’t. Some can be taught to be resilient, and some can’t. So if you’re born with resilience or the capacity for it, and can overcome the abuse, then you’re lucky. If you can’t, you’ll need help. If you don’t get that help, there may be no choice.”

“So what are you proposing as a solution?”

“That’s way beyond me. I’m just telling the stories and trying not to judge anyone. The only thing that seems clear to me is that violence begets violence, in every imaginable form. So our only choice is to find ways to stop the violence anywhere we can and I think that starts inside each of us.”

“Was the Crucifix Protest violent?”

“On the face of it, I’d say not. But some people have clearly felt judged by it, and they are responding with some rather strong language and in some cases some violent actions. So I’d guess there must have been some, even though it looked like they tried very hard to not project violence.”

“Well, I seem to recall the leader of the group talks a lot about cleaning up the insides before doing anything on the outside. Is that the point?”

“I think he says, ‘Until we get right on the inside, our actions will always miss the mark.’ By the way, that’s the original definition of what I believe is the Greek word ‘sin.’ It’s an archery term, and it means to miss the mark.”

Pitcairn shrugged. “At any rate, I don’t know if that’s the point or not. But it does seem to make sense that each time we judge or condemn others we are adding to the violence, and that will only produce still more.”

“Hence your point about Jesus in your article. Which ironically seems to have been the cause of the riots and now the protest. It’s strange that citing Jesus Christ has caused some Christians to erupt in reaction.”

“Indeed it is, Lenny.”

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