from Albatross - Friday, January 28, 2005
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It has been nearly three weeks since the tragic murder-suicide in Tucson and Blythe. In the weeks since, I have been in almost non-stop conversations with representatives of the media, attempting to shed some light on the history and practices of The Children of God/The Family. I spent the first couple of days in grief and shock, only to jump into the maelstrom of media interest. Consequently, I’ve had little time to address my own grief and feelings on this horrific tragedy. I have also found little time to articulate much of anything on this site. This is my attempt to do so.
In the summer of 2002 I wrote an article for Movingon.org attempting to clarify the relative differences between Justice and Revenge as I saw them. I quote from that article:
"I do not believe in revenge. I see revenge as a position of weakness. The emotional component of seeking revenge often leaves the seeker frustrated, unfulfilled, and angrier still, if only because most endeavors are best undertaken with a level head. That is not to say that Justice cannot be pursued with passion.
Any attempt at exacting Justice from the Family must take into account the effects on the innocent. That is not at all to say that we should stay our hand. It just means that we should enter into anything we do with the mind that ‘we must take care, lest in fighting the monster, we become the very thing we seek to destroy’ (author unknown)."
If anything, my position on the necessity to seek redress for the wrongs committed against us through the proper channels has become more entrenched. I have spent countless hours in the last few years lobbying attorneys and law enforcement representatives in the attempt to get them to look at our case. I freely admit that I have been met in many cases with disbelief or frank assessments of the "difficulties" we face in bringing our abusers to justice. I admit to becoming discouraged at times, but never disillusioned. If anything, my resolve has been strengthened.
But here we are in the shadow of this horrific tragedy. There is no way to put a good face on the unspeakable crime that Ricky committed. We can seek to explain, understand, and parse it out, but the horrifying truth remains that one of our peers committed a gruesome crime. Whatever may or may not be the particulars of Angela Smith’s history with Ricky or the Family, the simple fact remains that she did not deserve to be murdered. There is a legal system set up to address complaints. Sometimes the legal system may fail us, but we must never take the law into our own hands. In the days following the breaking of this story, I was saddened and horrified to see a few postings that seemed to perhaps applaud the action that Ricky took. My only comfort is that in three weeks of speaking to my peers I have found nothing but revulsion and sadness over the events that took place, and sympathy and sorrow for Ricky and Angela’s families.
As those of you who tried to reach me either by phone or email in the six months before this tragedy can attest, I was nearly incommunicado. I had taken a leave from this effort to find justice in order to complete a very grueling stage in my education, namely two very busy semesters with difficult math classes that I had to pass or else. The stresses of work and school during these months eventually landed me in the Emergency room with severe asthma. I had been slowly recovering my health and strength through a lot of rest and vacationing right up to the moment this tragedy occurred. Since then I have set myself back months thanks to very little sleep and enormous amounts of stress. I don’t regret my involvement in the effort to tell our story. I am proud to have been able to meet and stand shoulder to shoulder with many wonderful, bright, caring and articulate individuals who I had known only as names or perhaps in my childhood. I have made friends who I hope will remain so for the balance of my life.
In three weeks I return to an absolutely vital semester in school. I face a statistics class that for my math adverse brain will be quite an ordeal. I will therefore begin to ramp down my involvement in the media side of this effort. I will continue to work on a few projects I have been involved in, but will attempt to mostly clear my plate before school starts. I am gratified that I have not been alone in speaking to the abuses of our past. I will work closely with those who continue to do so in order to insure that the most factual and both intellectually and emotionally honest story is told.
I am saddened but not surprised by The Family’s response to date. They have as always in the past screamed about witch-hunts, tearing apart families, and religious persecution. I will not answer all their charges here except to say that their attempts to portray Ricky’s actions as having been influenced by others are absurd and directly contradicts their own statement on brainwashing.
Despite everything, I still hold out hope that they will see their way towards working with us to acknowledge the abuses and to identify and address the issue of those who committed the abuse. There is no need to scream at each other from across this gulf. We can walk halfway and meet each other, that is, if we are indeed willing to meet at all. I know that I am. I have been asking for such a meeting for years.
I close by extending my hand in sympathy to Ricky and Angela’s families, as well as to all of my peers who were friends of Ricky. I hope that out of this horror we can all come to a place of dialogue, understanding, and to a place where this fractured family of ours can finally put to rest the demons of our past.
Daniel Roselle (Albatross)