Single Parent Faith

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Trial of the Century— What we Can Do

When I was young I had a cat that gave birth to a litter of eight kittens. I remember removing one of her kittens and walking away into the next room. This mama cat meowed non-stop calling out for her baby. She instantly knew when she was plucked out of her litter, and came to search for her one that had disappeared. She didn’t give up until I released the kitten to her. Mama cat then grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and carried her back to her litter.

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This relentless protective behavior is what we typically come to expect of mothers. Anything less is uncharacteristic of a mother’s love. 


I am reminded of one of Jesus’ parables: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:12-14 

We mothers are wired to protect our children. However, sometimes something inexplicable goes wrong. Something we cannot fathom.  

About three years ago a 2 year-old girl, Caylee Marie Anthony, disappeared and her mother, Casey Anthony, failed to report her missing. Indeed, it was the grandmother, Mrs. Anthony, who called 911, after overhearing her daughter Casey admit she didn’t know where her daughter was. Up until then Casey lied to her family about her daughter’s whereabouts for 31 days. How many more days would she have gone unreported, had the grandmother not intervened?

Afterwards, the child’s mother, Casey, continuously lied to police, contriving intricate stories which led them on wild goose chases, wasting valuable time. 

Parents typically break out in a sweat, with rapid heart palpitations when a child of ours (no matter the age) disappears from our sight. I cannot fathom not calling the police for 31 days to report one’s missing child.

The trial coined by media as “the trial of the century,” against the mother suspected of premeditated murder and negligence, concluded last week with the jury returning a “Not guilty” verdict, on the 3 murder counts leveled. This caught many by surprise, who felt there was enough evidence, albeit circumstantial, to convict her on some level.

The greatest travesty is that this beautiful child is now gone.  “...it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”

I suppose what intrigues me most about this trial is that it displays the best and worse possibilities of motherhood, nestled within one family. The ideal of motherhood, juxtaposed with the possibility that a mother could do the unthinkable, and murder her own child. The ideal model of forgiveness and unconditional love, as displayed by Mrs. Anthony, where she looks beyond the immeasurable pain and travesty, and still loves her daughter.

What is it in this mother (Mrs. Anthony) as compared to her daughter’s (Casey) mothering instincts?

It must be a horrible place to be, where you have to turn your own daughter in when you believe she has had a hand in the disappearance of your grandchild.  Despite this, she loves her daughter anyway.

This mother’s love drives Mrs. Anthony to allegedly perjure herself on the witness stand to protect her daughter from the death penalty.  After weeks of Casey and her defense team throwing the family under the bus (figuratively), Mrs. Anthony can still walk by her daughter and mouth the words “I love you.” Meanwhile, her daughter stoically stares, and disregards her. Upon trial completion, Mrs. Anthony tries to visit her daughter in jail, but her daughter Casey refuses her visit. Despite this, Mrs. Anthony deposits money into her daughter’s jail account, before leaving.

Though this mother, Mrs. Anthony, appears to have unconditional love for her daughter Casey, the take-away shared by media and legal pundits, was that this case highlights the necessity of “tough love” in the shaping of our children. Casey’s pathological lying and other salacious activities (stealing money from family, etc) were tolerated without tough consequences. Publicly released videos taken during her parent’s initial jail visits, speak volumes how disrespectful, entitled, selfish, and narcissistic Casey’s behavior was toward her parents.

I believe this case will continue to be talked about and studied for some time to come. It is a troublesome collision of dysfunctional family dynamics and a pathologically lying narcissistic young woman’s unplanned pregnancy. Though few found her innocent, and believe she is implicated in the homicide of her daughter, there were no felony laws broken by her refusing to cooperate with police (regarded as a misdemeanor), nor her disregard to report her child missing. As a result, a mother from Durant Oklahoma, Michelle Crowder, started an online petition to create “Caylee’s Law,” which will make it a felony for a parent or guardian not to notify law enforcement of a missing child in a timely manner.

A Florida Sate representative, Bill Hager, took it a step further, and proposes “If a child under 12 years old is missing for 48 hours, this law would require parents to report it to authorities. And a deceased child would have to be reported within two hours."

Good can emerge from a tragedy, and sometimes it takes a tragedy to awaken us to action. Collectively as a society, we have an obligation to protect our children from victimization. The verdict highlights the gaps in the legal system that need to be addressed. Please go online and consider signing a petition which proposes closing this gap by creating a “Caylee’s Law” in all states. 

My heartfelt prayers go out to all those who loved Caylee Marie Anthony.

May your babies sleep well tonight, as they are safely nestled in bed, and you as loving responsible parents are protecting these blessings entrusted to you by God. Let’s remember and keep a vigilant eye for the children around us who are not as fortunate.
Ella Venezia
Copyright © 2011 Ella Venezia. All Rights Reserved
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8 comments:

  1. Hi Ella,

    For months I have been insulated from the news and discussion topics of the day until I overheard two women discussing this trial you wrote about.

    I don't know the specifics of this case so I can't say this woman is guilty or not guilty, her trial apparently ended with a not guilty decision; so the public may never know.

    I do know that in life, there are paths we specifically choose for good and for bad. At the time, we may only see it as the best choice to act upon, while others may wonder, How could you do that?

    It's easy to condemn this woman in light of her words and behaviour; her child is dead and that fact won't change. Some may never see her as anything but the woman who murdered her child.

    Who was she before these events spiraled out of control?

    Errors in judgement occur in the lives of us all; her's was simply more visibly public. The bible speaks of a woman accused of adultery and the mob cried out for her to be stoned. The Jewish leaders sought an opinion from Jesus, but their motives were masked to all but Christ.

    How would He respond?

    Could He be trapped by His own words?

    "...He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." (John 8:7, NASB)

    As you say, "Good can emerge from a tragedy, and sometimes it takes a tragedy to awaken us to action." It shouldn't take a tragedy, but there are times when our actions are preceded by tragedy. It no longer matters what happened before the tragedy of this child, nothing will undo her death now. What we choose to do in the aftermath defines who we are.

    Blessings and peace.

    MTJ

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  2. Hello MTJ-
    Your timing was uncanny.....and perhaps...Divine. Thank you for your comment... I am Blessed and humbled by your words.

    It was late when I decided to finally publish this blog post. However I felt conflicted about publishing it just yet. I was feeling it was somehow incomplete, unfinished. Unbalanced. I knew it was skewed in one direction: In the condemnation of a human being.

    My uneasiness was a sense that with God all things are possible, even forgiveness of heinous crimes (assuming she’s responsible).

    The word "Mercy" kept resonating in my head....and heart.

    Yet, I gave in and published, rather than sleeping on it.

    As I went to bed, still conflicted, I decided to re-read it on my phone. Then I saw your comment. And it hit the nail on the head. It was confirmation to me.....and "Mercy" kept ringing.

    “How would He respond?” as your comment reads.

    I believe Jesus always offers MERCY……since Jesus cannot be anything but LOVE.

    The reference to the woman threatened to be stoned, is appropriate. As you said, “Errors in judgement occur in the lives of us all.”

    Did Jesus offer the woman mercy because He saw her heart, knew what was in it, and knew where she came from…..what her life was like leading up to that moment? Would He have offered mercy if what He saw was pure evil? Since our origin and life is from God, and our souls are His, is it possible that God could ever “not” offer us mercy?

    My limitations caused me to judge. Fear strikes close to home. Something so innate and guttural kicks in and I’m ready to condemn. As a mother we are ready to give up our lives to protect our children. Truly God doesn’t want us to be dominated by fear and join the mob mentality and condemn.

    Perhaps we are to offer love in the midst of tragedy….even to the perpetrator. To do so may sound absurd to many. But it is the ultimate difficult thing to do….and perhaps that is the reason why we are to do it. Because to be able to do so requires a spiritual maturity that is difficult to achieve.

    Still the conflict exists. Should we then never incarcerate anyone who commits crimes because we are to show them mercy? We then put our innocents in jeopardy. How about mercy toward victims or potential victims? Don’t we have an obligation to protect them? Could it be it’s not an either or situation? By showing mercy to one doesn’t mean we don’t also offer mercy to the other. Mercy could be getting the perpetrator help, and when warranted incarcerating them to protect them from themselves and to protect society. It’s complicated isn’t it? To love seems simple enough when we must love those who love us back, or who behave in a lovable fashion. But to love when this is not the case, reminds me that love is not bounded only by this criteria. Love is a supernatural action, and cannot be possible merely by our human inclinations alone. We must rest our head on the shoulder of our Maker, and ask Him to teach us how to do this.
    -Ella

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  3. Ella~
    First let me start with how much I love your name. My daughters name is Emma and when we were trying for our 3rd child the name we had picked out was Ella. Anyhow your name brings a smile to my face.
    Thank you for stopping by my blog. I appreciate you taking the time to read my little slice of internet haven and leaving such a kind comment.
    I came to say all that and then I read your post and was just blown away by it.
    I did not follow the case because it hurt my heart. It still does. When the verdict was released I prayed for the family and their loss and wondered to myself how this could happen. I couldn't Imagine this situation happening in my own life. I never did see it from the way you posted though as one mother with such unconditional love and another stoic, unresponsive..almost immune to humanity in my opinion. After reading this I pondered my own mother who has loved me so fiercely and so un relentlessly. If anything the whole situation makes me want to be a better mother to my own kids and pray nothing of this terror ever touches myself or anyone I love.
    Your writing is amazing and very eloquent, I enjoy it very much. Thank you for this post it gave me alot to think about and touched my heart as well.
    I am now following your blog. I cannot wait to read future posts..You are amazing and a true inspiration!

    Karma Kristin

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  4. Hello Karma Kristin!
    So very nice to meet you. I know an Emma and she is precious. I appreciate your kind words about my name and writing. I try to be thoughtful in what I share....but it is all opinion...and I pray for God to open my heart so that what I share may be of inspiration. Sometimes I can do it, and sometimes I miss the mark. But I keep trying nontheless. :)

    I think what you said "it hurt my heart" says it all about that sad case. I like your conclusion that "If anything the whole situation makes me want to be a better mother to my own kids." I think that is the best we can do from witnessing something like this. As well as your gratitude for a mother who has loved you "so fiercely." You are Blessed to have a mother's love like that, and to in turn decide to be an awesome mother yourself!

    Thank God for women who have love enough to love our children unconditionally. Thank God for men who love our children unconditionally as well. And for those who live without the love of one or both, we pray you feel our Creator's love.....because He loves us all so unconditionally and "fiercely."
    -Ella

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  5. Hello Ella! I am visiting from FTLOB. I am touched by your post and hope that there is a law for people to report their children when they are missing. Guilty or not guilty it is still shocking that she didn't panic that her baby went missing. I will never be able to understand what happened in the case. Either way, I really hope that people who are like Casey will instead put their baby up for adoption to a loving family. It is definitely tragic. But that little girl is now up in heaven and being taken care of there.

    Hugs to you!

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  6. I am glad to hear of the Caylee law being written as it will help many children.
    I've spent my entire career (28 yrs) working with male and female offenders in prison and I've come across many people who murder for many different reasons and many different circumstances.
    It is clear that this young woman is a sociopath (sp). Her past (that we know about) fits many of the characteristics of a sociopath. Not all sp's murder, most don't. As you mentioned Ella, it is our collective obligation to protect our children from victimization. Recognizing sociopathy and getting sp's help early on in their life is what can help in that protection. In the end, sociopaths (without intense counseling) continue their destructiveness until they "crash and burn" many times taking innocents along with them.

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  7. Hi Ella,

    I understand the dilemma you speak of regarding justice. Certainly, when someone is tried and convicted for a crime they've committed, there is a punishment consequence. In this instance, I was only speaking to the woman who was found innocent. I cannot speak as a mother or woman, but I think in this instance, justice was rendered. Whether it was fair will not satisfy everyone. If this woman committed the crime, I do not believe she has escaped the consequence of this violent act.

    But that is all I am comfortable addressing, I do not think it appropriate for me to condemn her for what I may think she did. I was only speaking of the conversation I overheard by two women.

    I sense the anguish in your words, and that tells me that there is both mercy, and grace in your heart. This does not mean that you overlook sin, or believe criminals do not need to be prosecuted.

    You bring up many valid points which I had not considered. Your post reminded me of the earlier conversation I overheard, and it made me reflect on what I thought about at that moment.

    Blessings and peace.

    MTJ

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  8. Lisa- Thank you for visiting my site. I agree, with your comment on adoption. Unfortunately sometimes children are not given up for adoption, for a variety of reasons....and some of them have to do with the Mom's need...rather than what's best for the child. Thankfully the baby in this case is now safe in the arms of our Heavenly Father.

    Alvaredo- I read your great post about sociopaths, found on http://latinapen.blogspot.com/2011/07/sociopathy-and-anthony-case.html
    Thanks for sharing this vital information. 28 years working with offenders, puts you in a position to share a lot of valuable information that can benefit many.

    MTJ- I understand how you meant your comment...no worries. I'm glad you voiced your thoughts on this, it gave me some valuable things to consider, such as my own humility. Always a good thing.

    God Bless,
    Ella

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