“Former Classmates” Tell All but Know Little

Over the weekend I saw an interview on television with a “former classmate” of the young man who is being charged with the shootings in Arizona, of Congresswoman Gifford and many other people, some of whom are dead, some of whom are “merely” injured.

This “former classmate” seems to have been the best source the news crew could dig up at the moment, dubious and slight as her connections were to Jared Lee Loughner.

Somehow the “I knew him when” is an interesting angle even if the person “barely knew him when” as seemed to be the case with this woman.  She allowed that she’d not spoken to or seen him in three years (and hadn’t known him all that well back then). And she allowed (with some leading questions prompting her) that, yes, perhaps, he had seemed to have changed during the months way back three years ago when she did last see him; there were, perhaps, now-detectible but then barely perceptible transformations taking place.  And she expressed surprise that she knew anyone that could do something so evil.

As if dramatic (or subtle) change didn’t happen to all young men and women in their college or high school years.  As if it were not true, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said,  that “the line between good and evil is drawn not between nations or parties, but through every human heart.”

In the television interview, the inference was made that maybe someone could have seen this coming.  The news conference seemed like an attempt to grasp at straws and make something out of nothing (the nothing being this woman’s connection to Loughner).

So it got me thinking what “former classmates” would tell about me, and how much it would matter which one was selected.

If I committed a crime, and the media were out for a sound bite about me, here’s what they’d get:

  • From my friend L, in preschool, they’d hear, “She sure was shy.  She stood at the door between our two classrooms and whined, longing for me to be in the room with her.  We can deduce from way back that she was antisocial or at least socially awkward.”
  • From my first grade classmate, D, they would hear, “Oh yea, she was the kid who threw up on the American flag the first day of first grade.  She never did have respect for our country.”
  • In about fifth grade, my friends M, D, and P would have said, “Oh yea, she had these notebooks she wrote in all the time.  Like Harriet the Spy.  I imagine there were all sorts of plots and machinations in there.  I wish we’d stopped her.”
  • Around the same time, that same P would have said, “When I was in detention (frequently) she’d try to come and sneak a snack to me, usually Vienna Sausages and a Coke.  She always was one for aiding and abetting.”
  • In middle school, N would have said, “She was always up for a dare.  She could be enticed to do all sorts of dumb things.”
  • High school years produced all sorts of people with different perspectives, since like many people I was chameleon-like in high school.  I can imagine hearing from J, a rival, “She didn’t like to be in any club that she couldn’t lead. I bet she masterminded this current crime” or from another J, “She had a way of doing minimal work and coming off as if she’d actually done it.  This girl knew how to skim a passage and then BS about it for an hour.  She doesn’t have a lot of depth.”  Or it’s possible you would have heard, “I liked that girl.  She was enthusiastic and friendly and talked to new kids in the lunchroom.”  So many viewpoints… the plot thickens.
  • And from college, a professor might have B would have probably noticed and said, “She’s juggling small children and school, and she seems like an earnest student and solid citizen.  I’m surprised she committed the crime.  Plus, when would she have had time to plan it?”

Of course I’m horrified by the crimes in Arizona.  And all crime.  But I also think that these media attempts at connections to the crime are sometimes spurious.  Often those closest to someone would eschew the limelight, whereas those who can be convinced to grab it just might not have all the data, or good reason to weigh in on it.

We’re all changing, morphing, growing, even transmogrifying.  We are all — at any given moment — snapshots on a whole collage.

What we know about someone else isn’t everything.  What we speculate about is, well, pretty limited, as we never have the whole picture.

We don’t even know our own hearts accurately.  The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:4, “I may have a clear conscience but that doesn’t make me innocent.”  God searches our hearts, knows us in ways we don’t and can’t know ourselves.  And loves us anyway.

“Former classmates” may know a little.  Yet we are fully known.  In ways that just aren’t going to make it onto a television sound bite.



~ by Cary on January 10, 2011.

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