Sunday, June 23, 2019

Memory Held


"It has been said that crowds are stupid, but mostly they are simply confused since as an eyewitness the average person is as reliable as a meringue lifejacket." -Terry Pratchett - Unseen Academicals


If I personally were to have a choice of witnesses to a tragedy to talk to, give me the child. Their view is simply what they have seen, normally unclouded by judgment, history, politics, and expectations. Certainly, intelligence bears into it and the developmental differences of the child. The child also needs to be of an age where they can remember and describe events, understanding the difference between the truth and a lie. But they often pick up on things that the adults miss even if, in and of itself, it might not be admissible in a legal setting. Sure the technical detail is not there and children can often mix reality with fantasy, but often the heart of what they experienced is ascertainable, containing details often lost to others.


Those that piece together such places, unfortunately, have had to use such recollections before. You can watch all the TV shows you want, but unless you are a first responder or LEO you don't really realize what it is like. Air laden with smells of fuel perhaps and smoke, stale sweat and the dense coppery smell of death close up. The frantic sounds, shouts and fluid movements of water or people, trickling down to a slow drip as the EMS vehicles move away. Sometimes in a hurry, too often not, the sound expanding away from the hollow rumbles of voices left behind to gleen the concrete fields of evidence, searching for words and actions that explain.

Sometimes there is a crowd, sometimes in that crowd is a youngster, looking around, taking it all in, while the adult's eyes are frantically forming words in their head while look for a TV camera, or swaying in shock, zombie-like, eyes closed in almost drugged immobility.

A child's recollection is simple, not so many words, but sounds, smell, movement, direction, things others might have missed. With a parents hands hovering near, those movements we all know of protection, it will be asked if the child could give their remembrance, just as was done with any adults that were present, letting them make a statement of what they remember, to define the things already known. Sometimes their statements, made with simple words and hands, are startling in their detail; details that confirm the tangibles that are known at that time. Tangibles that can become evidence. With that, the search for truth continues.


For some adults do not do so well in recollection. An event to one person is seen in a totally different way than another. Both believe they are totally accurate and it's often hard to derive the reality from their truths. I've read accounts in the newspaper of events I actively participated in, only to shake my head in wonder at how very inaccurately it was portrayed, the words written for sensation and effect, not for accountability. I've seen it in a courtroom, a place where even in the scrubbed emptiness, the smell of spent violence, lust, graft, and vengeance are discernible. Where even in the quiet you feel the reverberations of badgering and bitterness, sinners and saints, actors in a role, while we the public hope for that one legal expert that can see through all of that to do what is right based on reality, not motivation.

But getting to the heart of the matter is difficult. Look at the media, at some of the written chronicles on the Internet of recent tragedies, and the variances in discussing the same person or event, the same bit of history. Some are honestly detailed yet succinct, while others, especially when they feel they or their cause have been wronged, are so outside the realm of what happened that they do nothing but provoke incredulity.

Tragedies bear their own truth and it is usually NOT what is in much of the mainstream media.

Life is never easy, and finding out why things happen as they do remains something that haunts the edges of not just a crime scene, but our very lives. We want to know, desire it. Yet, unless we look at events with the clear eyes of a child, unmotivated by greed, political leanings or prejudice, we may find that the words we read, the blames being made, are no more sweet deceptions.

3 comments:

  1. As usual, you have nailed it.

    Children are not born deceptive.

    They learn it from their elders.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Funny, we were having that same conversation this morning about a currently ongoing trial. The exact same event WILL be viewed differently by every person there, and add a year to 'refine' those memories and they no longer even resemble the actual occurrence. Children ARE the best witnesses, because of the reasons you said.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Which is precisely why children suffer the most in a war, or other violent setting. :(

    ReplyDelete

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