I’m not going to lie to you — I was mad last night.
Pace the floor mad. Grind my teeth mad. Clench my fingers mad. The kind of mad that Dr. Bruce Banner moved his inner-Hulk to Calcutta in order to avoid.
You know — mad.
The thing that got me agitated was a 30-year-old photograph, one that I’d never seen before. My eldest daughter, AmyJo, was in the photo at about 5 years of age. An extended family member in his 20s — I won’t say who — was above AmyJo, holding both of her hands as he dangled her over what appeared to be the opening to a mine or tunnel or something like that.
The thing that really got me was the respective looks on their two faces. On AmyJo’s little face is a look of abject terror. She is crying, and her mouth is open in such a way that she might even be screaming. In any event, she is obviously scared to death.
Meanwhile, on the unnamed family member’s face is a smile. It looks like he’s laughing at my daughter’s dismay. Evidently, making little children cry in fear is fun. Who knew?
“He has grandchildren now,” I told my wife, Anita, after she showed me the picture. “We should go dangle one of them to see how much he likes it.”
“He’d probably just laugh,” Anita said. “In fact, if he knew how worked up you are getting over this he’d probably think it’s pretty funny.”
“Well, I’ve got to do something,” I said. “He can’t get away with this.”
“He already has,” Anita said. “It’s been 30 years. I'm pretty sure the statute of limitations for child dangling has expired. He’s probably forgotten all about it. Besides, I’m not sure anger is the best response here.”
I was pretty sure it was. What was I supposed to do, ignore the fact that this 20-something bully frightened my daughter to the point of tears while putting her precariously at risk? What if she had slipped out of his hands? The picture didn’t show what was beneath her. What if it was enough of a drop that she could have been severely injured — or worse?
Anita was of no use in this particular discussion. I turned to my buddy Google to see what he could tell me about creative ways of exacting revenge for such an offense — including 30 years of accumulated interest.
As I searched the Internet, I stumbled upon a news story — you may have seen it — about the three women in Cleveland, Ohio, who recently escaped after being kidnapped and held captive for about 10 years. During that time, they were subjected to all kinds of horrific abuse, some of which has been reported and most of which is buried deep in their darkest memories. Like released prisoners of war, they will spend the rest of their lives recovering from the trauma perpetrated upon them — physically, mentally and emotionally.
But not necessarily spiritually.
“I don’t want to be consumed by hatred,” said Michelle Knight, the longest held of the three captives, during their first interview earlier this week. “With that being said, we need to take the leap of faith and know that God is in control. We have been hurt by people, but we need to rely on God as being the judge. I am in control of my own destiny, with the guidance of God.
“I will not let the situation define who I am,” she added. “I will define the situation.”
If anyone has a right to anger, outrage and a powerful desire for revenge, it would be Knight and her fellow kidnapping victims, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry. Their lives have been unalterably changed as a result of what they experienced. So if they can take that leap of faith and choose not to be consumed by hatred after their 10-year ordeal, I guess I can take a little baby step of faith and not allow my anger to consume me or the situation to define me.
Even if the situation is enough to make you mad 30 years later.
(To read more by Joseph B. Walker, please go to www.josephbwalker.com.)
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