Ethical dilemmas and other ramblings

Justice scale.
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I recently served county jury duty for a half-day trial. Having previously served, I knew what to expect with the process…or so I thought. This case wasn’t as clear-cut as the situation three years ago. In this case, there just wasn’t any evidence presented for us to convict the defendant. The entire jury felt that the person was probably guilty, but based on what was given to us for the trial, we were unanimous in acquitting.

The whole situation made me wonder how many guilty people walk free due to technicalities that are actually designed to help keep innocent people from being convicted of crimes. I’m a big believer in karma or “what goes around comes around” so I’d like to think that people who do terrible things will be punished in one way or another.

Of course, if I had to choose, I would rather a guilty person go free than an innocent person go to jail. I posed the question to my author group on Facebook and got varying answers. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the thought of being truly innocent sitting in prison sounds terrifying to me. It makes sense that the justice system is set up in a way that you have to convict only if you feel the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The key words there are “reasonable doubt.”

Being reasonable is a struggle sometimes considering the world in which we currently live. We’re coming out of the strangest two years I’ve ever experienced with the COVID-19 pandemic. I imagine it will be considered an endemic soon since a lot of the mask mandates are dropping now. My family has stopped masking except at the doctor’s office or other places that require them. We’re all vaccinated and will get the boosters recommended by the CDC when we’re eligible. I think the COVID vaccine will be a yearly shot for us like the flu vaccines with it being hit or miss each year. It’s just something we’ll have to live with and accept that people can and will die from COVID as some do with the flu each year.

So we just have to live like we’re dying, because we are. I’m not sure who said it first, but life is 100% fatal. We’re all dying, just a different rates. We can take precautions, but living in fear isn’t going to help anyone. I spend a lot of time calming my children’s fears (my own are muted by my anxiety medication) and remind them to be grateful for what we have and to enjoy each day. It’s all any of us can do. Choosing to look on the bright side isn’t a fix-all, but it’s something. It’s not a cure for clinical depression, but it works wonders on a poor attitude.

I’ve been trying to practice what I preach. I tell my kids all the time to adjust their attitudes, so when things get frustrating for me, I have to do that same. Instead of dwelling on the frustration of our current home renovations, I choose to focus on the fact that we were finally able to pay for the upgrades after living with spit-shines for almost a decade. By the end of this year, the biggest projects (kitchen and master bath) will be finished. As soon as everything is finished, I’ll write a post about our home and how we’ve improved it over the years.

In other news, my current novel has been the hardest to write because I am pouring so much of myself into it. I don’t really have a deadline, but at this point, late 2022 or early 2023 are possibilities. I’m anxious to share Lydia’s story with everyone, because like me, she tries to be a good person and doesn’t live in a world of black and white. She faces ethical questions, fears and bad attitudes just like the rest of us.

-Brandi Easterling Collins

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School Shootings

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Last week, on Valentine’s Day, a terrible tragedy happened in Florida. I’m sure it wasn’t the only tragedy to happen that day, but it’s the one that was on my mind the most after I heard the news. Another school shooting, this time leaving 14 students and three teachers dead.

I’ve seen sources claim it was the 18th school shooting since January 1, 2018, and other sources claim that the number is exaggerated. My stance on the matter is: Who the hell cares what number on the list this school shooting was? Whether it was the first or the hundredth one, it is still one too many.

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My biggest fear

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Fear. It can be crippling. It can also change as we age. What’s your biggest fear right now at this moment? Will you have the same answer tomorrow?

When I was little, my biggest fear was abandonment. After my father passed away, my mother remarried the man who would end up raising me and shaping my life in ways I didn’t know were possible at the time. I was only four, which is how old my daughter is now. I didn’t understand everything that had happened. I just had a fuzzy memory of my mother holding me over the side of my father’s hospital bed and telling me to say goodbye. I hadn’t said anything; I’d just waved. Waving instead of speaking is something my daughter does sometimes when she’s apprehensive about something. She’s afraid of the dark and worries when she thinks I am mad at her.

Not long after my mother and stepfather got married, I began having a recurring nightmare. I think I was about six when it began and it happened several times during the next few years. I dreamt about having to go hunting with my stepfather, just the two of us. In the dream, he made me stand under the water in a creek so that he could stand on my shoulders and look for deer through his binoculars. When I couldn’t hold my breath any longer, I pushed him off my shoulders, and he fell into the water and hit his head on the rocks. He wouldn’t wake up. At that point, I would always wake up crying. Pretty twisted for a kid’s dream, huh?

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