A Balance Of Delicate And Important Proportions

I read today that Gabrielle Giffords and her husband have endorsed the plea agreement reached with the gunman who shot her and several other people in Arizona in early 2011. The exact statement was this: “Avoiding a trial will allow us—and we hope the whole Southern Arizona community—to continue with our recovery and move forward with our lives.”

All right, it’s understandable. Absolutely. And they and the other victims living and dead have my total and undivided sympathy through prayer. But one thing nags at me a bit. As you might guess, it is history or, at least, history-related.

What if we slightly altered the word “trial” and instead used “history.” We want to avoid something that happened in our past, a particular point or part of our history. We’ll cover it over and keep it concealed because we don’t want to think about it anymore or, for that matter, ever again.

Isn’t that very close to what they’re saying here? After all, what would a trial be but a reconstruction of what happened. Trials by their nature and definition are replays of the present from former times.

Though thankfully I’ve never been in a situation like these shootings, I’ve had a few rather horrible things happen directly or indirectly. I think nearly all of us would say this, too. So, yes, I understand the need and importance of moving on. Getting stuck in a bad memory is nothing you want to do.

Yet, as much as we need to stay away from stuck, I can’t help but think there is also something positive and constructive that comes with such a replay. Maybe a replay is exactly part of the “recovering and moving forward.” For my own part I know that an exercise in history is vital for healthy understanding. In this case, such an understanding might be critical, if not for the Giffords, then perhaps for the broader community.

There’s a balance to be struck between giving ample time and energy to remembering and giving too much. I don’t think the Giffords family will give too much scrutiny to the past by rejecting a trial. But I do wonder if they’re giving enough. The best world is the one where these balances need never occur. That world, sadly, is not in this place. And so we grapple on.