On the day after Daniel Pelka's acting guardians of 2012 were found guilty, I find myself incapable of condemning them. Not because their crimes are not horrific and the evidence is not overwhelming. But because of the knowledge that, without the work of God in my life, my parents were no further than 5mm away from possibly being in their shoes, in many ways no less deservedly.
Very few people know about just how broken my teen years were. Skip to the pinnacle: after years of leaving me cut up inside about not being close to being good enough, and leaving me paralyzed with guilt for considering daily that they might not be perfect, it was my dad's turn to motivate me to face the day. His method of choice:
1) Remove his bedding (and consequently dignity).
2) Shout at him, repeatedly referencing the Mr. Scruff tune, "Get A Move On".
3) Throw his bed at him.
As a 15/16-year old, my thoughts naturally gravitate to those of revenge. Weeping, feeling absolutely unloved and unlovable, I locate my nearest available weapon. Deodorant. Between my teeth goes the can.
If I pull the trigger, to my teen knowledge, I will suffocate and die. Apparently it's possible that I might have escaped with severe crippling brain damage (ironically currently in the media being put forward as a fate worse than death), but I didn't realise this at the time.
For some reason, I decide to wait. I envisage my mum appearing out of nowhere to tell me it's all ok, but this just makes it worse as that quantifiably fails to happen for the next 20 minutes. No idea where dad is either, but that seems less relevant as the cynicism they have taught me leaves him in an out-of-the-picture condemned state.
I don't know why I didn't. I think it was maybe because the adrenaline wore off, and as those of you who I've played Ultimate with will know, without adrenaline I can often be more reserved than your average recluse.
Failed by his parents. Yes. Absolutely. But he's not alone. By outright condemning his parents WITHOUT PITY for committing such unspeakable acts, as (potential) parents and sons and daughters we separate ourselves from their plight, implying our own ability to love 'well', whether by separating ourselves on an intellectual level, a cultural one, or just a "that's disgusting I'm not like that" level. It's going to sound cliche, but I agree with this guy:
"But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment... anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell." (JC, c. 30AD) [JeC definition of hell included in the comments]
It's quite possible that you'll tell me I'm ignoring the facts. That I'm ignoring quite how callous these people are, how entirely feeble their "kids aren't that fat in Poland" comments are, and how straight up vile it is that they admit to having sex after realising DP's death. The media certainly does.
But I think the picture I see is even more harrowing than that of the Polish villains.
There is no tangible childcare education in Poland.
I have been informed of this first hand. This became OUR NATIONAL RESPONSIBILITY when we extended somewhat open borders to Poland But that doesn't sort out the problem - the truth is that some people's lives are broken by society, no matter where you come from. Tell me that the likelihood of the mother becoming a prostitute would decrease were she born in the UK and I'll tell you we need to go for a walk some time.
That's a vile concept, and it scars so many when defining their own body image. Responsible parenting surely includes defining in your own head a good body image for your child. Tell me that their supposed image was beyond reason and I'll show you a million publications which maliciously twist the eye of the beholder to leave the ability to perceive beauty deformed.
From personal experience, I can tell you that a subsciption to the popularised myth that the pinnacle of human existence is one that conventionally takes place in the bedroom will promise you shelter from the pain of life, but entirely fail to deliver, and leave your ability to experience real intimacy marred beyond all recognition.
I'm not defending their actions. But I am defending my instinct to have compassion them, and as a consequence be praying for them as they mourn in the only way they know, which is doubtless a process wrapped up in coping mechanisms.
I love my parents. It took nearly 20 years, including 6 months halfway round the globe, to realise that holding my own parents to account for their failures in loving me was meaningless. Because I'm as broken as them. Especially now, at 22, in a season of my life where every guy I know seems to be commending marriage to me, I'm terrified of the possibility of falling short as a father figure.
We all need grace.
That's why I love Jesus and hate religion.
That's why I love education and hate examinations.
That's why I love every drug addict and alcoholic I know, but hate the addictions that bind them to their broken world.
We all need hope for real change.
"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (JC, c. 30AD)
I declared publicly that I wanted to be a Christian just over 70 months ago. I only actually started believing that last one fully last night.
[JeC definition of hell: A place where the rejection of divine grace results in an unleashing of personal brokenness. All citizens are truly beyond hope, consequently unpitiable as by their own choice, their ability to love has been entirely engulfed in lust and selfishness.]