Forgive me as I ramble. And forgive my improper use of pronouns as I attempt to protect someone's privacy. A week ago I spent an entire day at the courthouse. A personal friend was being tried for a crime that they did not commit. This was a crime that the county prosecutor knew my friend did not commit yet chose to use tax-payer money to try the case anyway in order to further possible political aspirations. I had little doubt that a not-guilty verdict would be the result.
Because of our pastor relationship, I was subpoenaed as a character witness. This meant that I was not allowed to view the proceedings and had to spend my time waiting in the lobby until I was called to testify. Of course, I was not called to testify which meant I really didn't do anything but provide moral support during the breaks [I did use the time to read two books, write a couple sermons and plot out my teaching schedule through next summer]. Like I suspected, it took little time for a not-guilty verdict to be handed down.
Through past experiences I've discovered that a lot of interesting things can happen in court lobbies and this day was no different. One person passed out while before a judge so paramedics came and hauled her away. Some people had never seen a metal detector before and were confused when their keys set it off. And some jackass divorce lawyer made jokes about a mother who left the courtroom in tears, desensitized to the fact that he's ripping her life apart [and it's gay marriage that's the biggest threat to the sanctity of marriage?]. Yet I digress.
The most appalling thing I realized that day, a lesson I'd learned perviously but still find disturbing, is that there are people on the side of the law that are just plain dirty.
This prosecutor had no case. I'm not a legal expert, nor do I watch Court TV and but I could clearly recognize this. After the verdict was delivered, reeling from an embarrassing defeat, the prosecuting attorney used their position to offer disparaging, inaccurate remarks about my friend to local media. So a representative of our justice system, employed to protect the public, used their power within the system to try to make a name for themselves at the expense of an innocent person. They, when their bad judgment is exposed, they lie and lob additional, baseless insults. As an American, I was embarrassed. As a tax-payer, I was pissed.
Overall, I was unimpressed.
So where is the justice for my friend, who was found not guilty, but had their name soiled? Where can they go to reclaim their reputation? I'm not going Michael Moore here, advocating that the system is broke and we should all move to Cuba. But I am saying that power is intoxicating, capable of making saints into sinners. We should always be a little leery of the people who wield power, clergy included [if not especially]. Not all crooks use weapons to commit their crimes; some use the very structures designed to maintain justice in order to thwart it.
It's difficult to cling to faith in such an unjust world. The case of my friend is just the tip of the iceberg; at least they could afford competent legal counsel. What about those innocent who are serving time? And, expanding the circle, what about the oppressed throughout the world who die without being heard? This isolated incident is nothing when compared to what millions others have experienced.
So now what?
As I move on I, trying to come to grips with my bitterness, I don't go to Nietzche, but return to the Scriptures. I still gravitate towards the Biblical concept of God in seeking relief- finding refuge in a God who is just beyond measure; a God who is what we aren't; a God who doesn't need to know "what's in it for him" because it's all His anyway. I find security in the understanding that when people fail and systems let us down, He exhibits perfect justice.
That, friends, I find impressive.
"He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he."