No one ever does the wrong thing. That is the scary reality of bearing witness, as moral outsiders, to acts that certainly, and most definitely are, wrong. It’s scary because no one will ever murder, steal, or lie until they believe it is the right thing to do. And in that moment of rationalization comes the first scrape towards the overall whittling of the soul – an erosion that becomes exponentially less obvious to the wrong-doer with each poorly-considered act. Barring circumstances that could put these acts into a gray area (i.e. stealing food to feed a starving family, killing in self-defense, lying to protect someone innocent) the witness thereof creates repulsion, sadness, anger, and a sense of lost footing. Especially when the act is tasked by someone close.
Our trust falters. Our eyes narrow. Our perception of people becomes seemingly keener. Our default observation of character slides a few notches into the negative. Everyone becomes suspect. In this justified paranoia we meet with our own ability to rationalize. In such crisis we unconsciously muse: “If this person could do this to me, so could anyone else.” We fight the hurt – and the embarrassment of having trusted someone of such capabilities – by building new walls and keeping those people who were only moments ago close to us, at a new distance. What a thief takes, in addition to our money or belongings, is our ability to see through uninflected eyes.
Bouncing back against this shot to our sense of trust, family, and friendship isn’t easy. We find ourselves every day surrounded by family. An appeal to reason would recommend we simply separate this from that – presupposing that the discarding of a bad seed from our home would leave behind no psychological or emotional spoils. An untruth, to say the least, because while our minds deal with things quick – as they are programmed to do – our hearts heal slower.
I have no solutions for this, unfortunately. Time, they say, heals all wounds – so perhaps we can only default to that. It’s hard for me to imagine that there exists a grand romantic gesture with the power to set right the now-marred concept of trust, to bring back the full-scope of friendship, and to close the gaps between the elements of a shaken unit.
But, time not only heals wounds, it also strengthens and redefines. Through crisis we find truth and kinship. Bonds are reinforced and the family unit becomes more powerful, more capable, and more able to see clearly a shared vision.