What are we to say when someone greets you with a "How are you today?" The tendency is to say: "Fine, thank you," even though we haven't really checked. Sometimes my response has been: "How much time do you have?" Obviously, it's just a greeting, even though it would be nice if somebody really wanted to know.
At this stage of life, I find myself increasingly thankful for the joy of rising in the morning to celebrate a new day; thus, I can respond to those who greet me: "I'm well, thank you, and so glad to be alive."
I've been enamored more recently with the preciousness of life. As I peruse the daily paper, I enjoy reading about births, along with those who have passed away. The brief tributes and biographies listed are quite interesting. Unlike the births, these folks have finished their course and their works follow. I'm challenged by the reality that we only get one opportunity to make our mark on this world; thus, it's essential to make right choices. Yes, how we finish is more important than how we began.
I guess these thoughts were instigated by the recent, horrific murder of Philip and Frances Mann here in Warren. Police have arrested their son, Louis Mann, age 31. How many of us were speechless as we read the account? What could have possessed anyone to extinguish the gift of life from this aging couple? Louis told officers that he killed his parents "in a fit of rage" and the report said he strangled his mother with a clothesline, and "took 31 years of rage out" on his father's head with a flashlight.
In more than 45 years as a counselor, I have personally witnessed this pattern of rage and rebellion repeatedly, but not to this extent. This was not a sudden act, verified by Louis' testimony. This dastardly deed was a result of a long process of wrong and hateful thinking, which may have never been rightly confronted.
Every normal person has issues to work through in life. If left unchecked, they can lead to big trouble. Termites may work undetected for years, eating away a deck from the inside, until suddenly it collapses. We must keep short accounts, assuming responsibility for our thoughts and actions.
Some people, however, have developed an insensitive conscience and an irrational mind. Because of their "victim" mentality, everyone owes them, and the ordinary rules of life do not apply to them. Nevertheless, the law stands - an "eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a life for a life." One's anger can never justify "aggravated murder." One cannot arbitrarily destroy another's life, and not expect to lose his privilege of living.
The suspect said he used a clothesline, a flashlight, and his father's gun to commit the crime. These legitimate objects, including the gun, could have never killed anyone by themselves. But in the hand of an angry and crazed man, they became "weapons" to snuff out the precious lives of his parents. Let's put the blame where it belongs. May the court have clear wisdom, and may there be proper closure, especially for a grieving family.
Moreover, may we be spared from the defense's attempt to blame the deceased parents or society for some imperfection which would justify such a travesty. We all live in an imperfect world, and, at best, our homes reflect that fact. Families try to work through problems, and loving parents give their very souls for their children's welfare. But what parent, in his wildest imagination, would ever anticipate being a murder victim at the hands of one that he or she personally brought into this world?
Finnigan is a Howland resident. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.