Crime and Punishment

For the past several months I have been watching live streams of court hearings and trials (mostly from Texas county courts). Because of covid many courts postponed in person trials and finally went online. I have always been interested in what makes people behave the way they do. Watching everything from contested wills and child custody disputes to murder trials, I am getting a front row seat to people’s individual suffering. Not pretty, but fascinating. And I get a good look at the good and bad of our court systems.

(I have learned one main lesson: Do not represent yourself. Get a lawyer if at all possible or get a court appointed one.)

November 2021 is the 200th anniversary of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s birth and is being celebrated worldwide by the International Dostoevsky Society and the North American Dostoevsky Society (https://dostoevsky.org). The only novel of his that I have read is Crime and Punishment. That was many years ago, but the story still has an impact on me. How do I love the sinner? It is an age old religious and philosophical question. Can we love the human even as we hate the crime they committed. How do we do this?

How can anyone love the men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery? And I do not mean forgive. I mean love. Sometimes the loved ones of victims forgive the criminal. How do they do this? Is it part of their religious beliefs? I have a hard enough time forgiving family members for hurting me in much smaller ways.

I ponder these things as I sit outside at the edge of the back porch and clip my fingernails. I do this outside when the weather is nice. I keep an eye out for the ants that often have a parade going on nearby and the wasps that might be checking out the pretty blooming lantana that brushes my left shoulder.

Lantana Blooms

I spot a tiny spider suspended in a web under the bush. I have no trouble loving non human creatures. They act out of survival and not malice. The closer I look at the spider the more beautiful it is. Once again I find solace in the natural world of plants and critters.

Orchard Spider

I leave you with a version of a quote from Fyodor Dostoevsky:

“Love all God’s creation

The whole universe and each grain of sand

Love every leaflet, every ray of God’s light

Love the beasts, love the plants, love every creature.

When you love every creature,

You will understand the mystery of God in created things.”

*Photos by B. McCreary

*Quote from Sunday, February 13, 2005 Order of Service of Wildflower Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Austin, Texas- Blessing of the Animals Service

Published by

bettymccreary7347

Born and raised in Central Texas. Spending time outside brings me joy and I love to share my observations. I also belong to two writing groups and enjoy researching my ancestors. I find people interesting, but Nature keeps me sane.

10 thoughts on “Crime and Punishment”

  1. Intriguing – and a stunning spider!
    I’ve never thought of following actual trials – closest I’ve come was legal secretary for a year right after college – abandoned for high tech.

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  2. I too have struggled with love the person and hate the crime. One of the faculty at UT School of Nursing, Sister Joan, who taught a practicum at the State Hospital once told me she saw a halo around the head of each patient, and that worked for her. I think we all have good and bad in us and strive to find the good. I’m not always successful.

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  3. This is beautifully written. It’s a humanistic version of the Christian love the sinner but hate the sin. The case that troubles me is Kyle Rittenhouse. On the one hand, he was 17 when the crimes were committed and his home-life was clearly warped—I mean what mother would drive her son anywhere with a semi automatic long gun? On the other hand, he killed two men and maimed a third. I find it hard to feel agape towards him, especially because he received no punishment or mental health treatment.

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