If not for television, and the much-maligned 24-hour news cycle, few of us would know about the Anthony trial, or have an opinion about the verdict.
As it is, high-profile trials have become another form of reality television. Just as with Survivor, American Idol and The Voice, everyone has an opinion. Or, at least, everyone expresses an opinion.
There is a difference. A true opinion forms from intimate knowledge of a situation. I wonder how many people simply parrot what they hear on Nancy Grace.
It seems unfair to me that, after trial by a jury of peers, an acquitted defendant is then tried in the contentious court of public opinion.
Here in the United States, we are innocent until proven guilty. In most other countries, the opposite is true. This is one of the many things that make me proud to be an American.
There are also things that make me ashamed to be an American. Nancy Grace is one of them.
The throngs of people crying for “justice” for a child they never knew appalls me. I wonder if those people have the same passion for justice when it comes to doing hard things to help people they actually know.
Immediately after the verdict, all over Facebook were posts about “No justice for Caylee,” as if a guilty verdict would have somehow brought the poor child back to life.
In tarot, card 11 of the Major Arcana is called “Justice.” When I was a young reader, I struggled to understand this card, just as I now struggle to understand why people feel justice is served when a defendant is found guilty and punished.
I guess the first question, really, is about how we define the word “justice.”
I had always thought justice was simply about doing the right thing. I have a difficult time with the Abrahamic concept of “an eye for an eye.” To me, that sort of thinking begins a dangerous cycle that leaves everybody blind.
I notice, too, that many people have the same (in my opinion) misunderstanding of karma. To many, karma is simply blowback, or punishment. It is really a lot more complex than that.
In many modern tarot decks, Justice is associated with the Egyptian Goddess, Maat. Maat is the Goddess of the Underworld. After your death, she weighs your heart against a feather. If your heart is weighed down with the guilt of wrongdoing, you will not reach paradise.
The word “maat,” in Egypt, describes the concept of morality, truth, balance and law.
When I think about justice as a concept, the American justice system, or the Justice card in tarot, the conclusion I come to is this. Fairness, balance and right action are the goals of all rational people. But people, even rational people, will always disagree on what is fair, balanced and right.
I think, as a society, our concept of justice needs to include acceptance, compassion and forgiveness. It is important to remember that Maat’s scales measure the weight of guilt and sorrow, rather than the relative heinous nature of one’s crimes.
Punishment does not make things right. Some things can never be made right. Yet the world still turns.
What would happen on the planet if, instead of masses screaming for Casey Anthony’s blood, that same number of people were praying for Casey’s healing?
Regardless of the crimes she may or may not have committed, wouldn’t our pleas for healing and forgiveness bring light to a dark planet? And don’t our cries for punishment and blame, masquerading as cries for justice, bring darkness?
In my mind, there is the true nature of justice, and of karma.
Perhaps the Beatles were talking about justice when they sang, “And, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
Only Casey Anthony knows for sure if the jury got it right or wrong. Nothing will ever restore Caylee’s precious life.
Lusting for punishment, blame and blood (as if that blood would make any difference at all) may be our human nature, but it is time for us to evolve into something greater.
The truth is this. Justice shouldn’t be about revenge, it should be about compassion. And the more we nurture compassion on the planet, the more justice there will be.