DOES THE PUNISHMENT OUTLIVE THE OFFENSE
I canít remember now where I read this quote or in what context I found it in, but I do know that I wrote it down because it struck me deeply. Especially because of certain topics that have been discussed lately and things that people have said, it seemed to answer some questions in my mind and at the same time, put into words what I was thinking.
Recent threads brought up topics about people that were considered previously big players from our little world of abuse here in the exCOG/FOG community. In particular, people mentioned were James Penn and Ed Priebe. Also included from time to time are S.Sam and Watchman. I, myself, have included Ray with his big name as a former leader and being so close to Berg, and Iím sure a host of others could be added. My point is, some people have been singled out as being more responsible for abuses that went on by their closeness to the top, their loyalty factor, their writings and carrying out the whims of two very demented people. Of course, we could all be put in that category to some degree or another. So this question begs to be answered: Does the punishment outlive the offense? How long do these people have to bow and scrape and go down to the basement for their butt-kicking machine (SSamís solution) so as to punish themselves or be punished?
Recently, I had a chance to spend some time with my 26 yr old son. This son had previously given me Hell as a teenager. He had really become the teenager from Hell. Not only did he do things behind my back like sneak out at night and take out the family car without a license and permission, start smoking, hang out with the wrong crowd, all the things you try and steer your kids away from, but the worst thing he could have done was join a gang and become a gang member, tattoos and all. It became so bad that my husband would no longer allow him or his friends in the house. I was beside myself with worry and fear of what he had become. He began snorting cocaine, stealing cars, and eventually ended up in juvenile jail. He ran away and ran his nice car his uncle had helped him buy into a brick wall. We had to tow it and sell it since it was in my name. Then he turned 18 and the worst thing happened that could have happened. He was the rider in a car in a drive-by shooting. Now not only were the police after him, but the gangs were after him to make sure he didnít squeal. He was hiding out in the alley ways and empty houses. I felt I had lost a son.
The gangs decided they would make sure he was out of their hair so they set him up in a robbery and he was arrested for attempted robbery, assault and possession of firearms, none of which was true. While in jail, he went to the chapel and prayed, no doubt more than he ever prayed in his life, and told God that if he got him out of this mess, he would follow him. The next day he was let out and all the charges were dropped. Apparently, the lead detective had gotten to the bottom of it and realized how my son had been set up. To make a long story short, my son was good to his promise and turned his life around. He is now a university student majoring in music composition at a prestigious Christian university and leads the youth worship service at his grandmotherís church.
On with the story. When he started college, we gave him an 81 Chevette to use and he basically used it until it fell apart. The same uncle helped him out again and signed for him to get a loan on a used car. He was so happy with a decent car finally that he just couldnít stop beaming. We talked about all this and he reminisced about the first car his uncle had bought him and what a gas guzzler it was, how it was a mistake for him to have that car and quit school to go on home studies so he could work and pay for it. Then we talked about how he had cracked it up while being chased by the police. He got real quiet and said how he just couldnít believe he had messed up so bad and how could anyone ever forgive him. I just looked at him and said, ďBut look at you now, son, look at your life and what you have done for yourself. I couldnít be anything but proud of you. Many people make mistakes in their lives and God knows how I have made mistakes and paid dearly for it. You have to look at what you have accomplished now and the good that you are doing, not at the past.Ē The answer seemed to quell his remorse and that radiant beaming smile returned to his face.
Can we do the same for our very own compatriots who recognized the evil that was within their midst and their responsibility in it, that courageously braved cutting the ties of the stranglehold that had been placed on their very lives and have turned their lives around? Some of these same people that have been mentioned have probably done more to undo the lies than anyone I personally know of. People to this day still talk about James Penn and Ed Priebeís articles. Current members, including SGAs have left because of them. Exmembers have found solace and a rest to their confusion. They found clarity where there was once mixed up emotions. Personally, I think they have more than made up for their crimes. Ssam continuously asks exmembers and current members even for forgiveness. Watchman gave up his reputation, his hope of living a normal life by going public and he paid for it dearly. Do we still need to see them punished? I think not. And how about the people that really did nothing to hurt anyone while they were in the COG/FOG and left with a torn and battered life to try and repair. I certainly see no reason to punish them or put them through the ringer anymore than they are already going through. I think we need to more see how we can help each other than find fault or lay blame. People have been punished enough, if even just be leaving and having to pick up the pieces of their lives and restore their families.