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Six Degrees

A couple of years ago…maybe more than a couple, there was this silly game that got started called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.  It was based on the theory of Hungarian author, Frigyes Karinthy, and more recently, the play by John Guare, Six Degrees of Separation.  I was fascinated by the notion that any person is six relationships away from anyone else on the planet.  I was ridiculously good at the Kevin Bacon game, because I have a weird, useless trivia portion of my brain that was just made for that game.

When the game was at its most popular, Bill Clinton was still in office, and my co-workers and I found that we were only separated from Bill & Hillary by three degrees.  Our sales manager knew Vernon Jordan, one of Bill’s buddies.  Still pretty cool…that means I’m four degrees from Obama.  (I’m dismayed to say that I’m closer than that to many Republicans…my boss is a big contributor, and has had dinner with Dubya.)

Tonight, the game touched me in a sad way.  I had been playing with my phone, reading news on one of the apps.  I had just finished reading about a gunman in Grand Rapids that was in a stand-off with police, after killing seven people.  No sooner had I clicked on to the next story when a Facebook text popped up.  It was from my good friend, MK.  She said that one of her best friends, someone who I had met when she was her on vacation from Michigan, was related to four of the victims. 

It’s still early in the game.  At this point, the guy is still holed up in a house, with a hostage.  In addition to the fatalities, apparently, two others have been shot.

Such tragedy…two of those killed were children.

I don’t know MK’s friend well…I only met her the one time; but, that doesn’t stop me from feeling incredibly sad.  So many lives will be touched by this event, and before it’s over, the potential for even more loss of life is a possibility. 

I have struggled with bouts of depression, and there have been very dark times in my life.  I am grateful to say that I have never contemplated hurting myself or anyone else.  That notion is so foreign to me.  Perhaps I’m lucky.  I’ve never been an addictive personality, either, so I can’t grasp how someone can get so lost inside themselves and be so destructive…either to themselves or to others.

I’ve been involved in a couple of heated discussions over the Casey Anthony verdict, as well.  That’s another topic that just confounds me.  I really do think that she had something to do with her daughter’s death, and I think that it’s a shame that, regardless of any jury’s verdict, a beautiful little girl is still dead.  I have tried to avoid a lot of the talking heads that have been screaming for Casey’s head.  The part that bothers me the most is the trashing of the jurors.  Up until a couple of years ago, I really wasn’t sure how I felt about the death penalty. 

Then, I was called to appear on a case that involved a trial expected to last for several months.  It involved very serious crimes and the resulting sentence could have been the death penalty.  I had to answer pages of questions, and one whole page was filled with various questions as to whether or not I could find someone guilty, knowing that they could be sentenced to death.  It wasn’t until that moment that I realized I couldn’t do it.  I ultimately didn’t have to serve on that case.

A couple of years later, I was called again.  This time, I was picked as a juror.  It was a case that involved a father accused of sexually assaulting his daughter.  It was awful.  They put the little girl on the stand.  She was ten.  When we were finally sent to deliberate, I found out just how difficult it is to go through all of the pieces presented, and to make a decision that would affect not only the defendant, but the rest of his family.  It would be life changing for that little girl.

It is very sobering to have that power.  We found the man guilty on all counts.  I will say that the lawyers in the case were BOTH terrible.  I wouldn’t want either one representing me.  Knowing that the man would be in jail for a very long time, far away from his two little girls…there was a younger sister, too…was some small comfort.

I don’t like that people like Nancy Grace are calling the Anthony jurors incompetent, stupid and wrong.  Remember that the jurors only got specific pieces of information.  During our case, we could go home to our families at night, watch the news and get on the internet.  The Anthony jurors were sequestered for months, with no access to the twenty-four hour news barrage that the rest of us got.  They did their civic duty.  They did EXACTLY what they were supposed to do.  They remembered that the defendant was innocent until proven guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt.  Yes…I think Casey had something to do with it; but, let’s hold the prosecutors and the investigators at least partially responsible for trying a case that was not solid enough.  Nancy Grace is a fierce advocate for victims’ rights, and she is a former prosecutor.  For those things, I applaud her.  I do not appreciate her belittling those charged with deciding such a serious case, with mostly circumstantial evidence.  That jury knew that if they made the wrong decision, it was possible that a woman would be put to death. 

Will I watch a movie about Casey Anthony?  Will I buy a book written by her, or magazines featuring her on the cover?  No.  I don’t intend to help her profit from any of this.  Instead, she will have to live the rest of her life, probably hearing catcalls anywhere she goes, facing the repulsion of people everywhere.  Perhaps that’s almost worse than death.  She will always be a pariah…just like O.J. Simpson.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this tonight. The Anthony verdict has been on my mind a lot today, and talking about loss and the terrible events in Michigan just made me think about the repercussions that are felt by such a wide circle of people.  You never know who will be affected by one act.  You may be less than six degrees from any tragedy.

(image credit – Wikipedia)