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This Is Not The Time For Compassion And Healing

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This Is Not The Time For Compassion And Healing

Citizens, friends, and neighbors, we have come together today to reflect on recent events which have deeply wounded this community, and which will no doubt resonate with all of us for a long time to come. You are all undoubtedly feeling many complicated emotions right now—anger, confusion, resentment. But I would like for you to keep one thing in mind: This is not the time for compassion and healing.

Although Scoutmaster Holland's appalling actions have in some way hurt each and every one of us, we must not offer each other comfort and support. We must not cooperate to get through this difficult time together. Nor should we reflect on those blessings we do have—those of community, family, and friends. Rather, we must act out of petty self-interest and blind, irrational anger.

This is no time to turn to each other and share in our grief. This is a time for bitter, divisive accusation. It is a time to say things so terrible, they will give birth to grudges that we'll nurse for decades. This isn't the time to move forward or to forgive past wrongdoings. It is the time to hate, seethe, and wallow.

This tragedy could open the doors to change and renewal. We could seize the opportunity to exchange ideas on how to improve and safeguard our children's futures. But instead, let's exchange angry recriminations and engage in childish name-calling. Mrs. Dailey, earlier, you told me that Ms. McInnes was a bad mother. Saying that to me behind her back is one thing, but why not say it again before everyone?

As I look around at the anguished, questioning faces in the room, I see a real need for guidance and unity. Well, I'm afraid this is neither the time nor the place for that. For now, we must simply pick ourselves up and carry on with the business of finger-pointing and buck-passing. We must set about—and I'll tell you, I've been doing a whole lot of this—marveling at how certain troop leaders could really be as oblivious as they claim. From this day forward, let us make "alienation" our watchword. Gandhi said that "forgiveness is the attribute of the strong," but I'll bet Gandhi's kid was never touched in the woods on a camping trip.

Fine, "allegedly" touched.

We have convened this meeting not to console each other, not to find solace in numbers, but to get a good look at the lying, guilty faces of those who should have done something but didn't. Let us unleash our unbridled rage hither and thither until every last bit of acrimony is expressed, which probably won't be any time soon. Mrs. Dailey, could you maybe shut your mouth for three seconds and let me finish?

Some among you might be clinging to that old saw "innocent until proven guilty." To those people, I say, "Where were your high-minded ideals when your best friend and racquetball partner told you that sometimes he didn't trust himself around children, Terry?" Seriously, I'd like an answer to that. Oh, what a surprise. Terry's not here. Terry's probably, what? Polishing his car or buying himself something, like he probably was when his own kid was getting stroked in a field. I'm sorry, but after all, it's what we're here for.

Some of you may be asking "Why, God? Why my boy? What did he do to deserve this?" Some of you may be searching your hearts for understanding and insight. Many of you may have turned to God or family. Friends: Abandon fruitless searches. The molesting gym coach isn't inside you. Turn your search for scapegoats and excuses outward... You didn't hear it from me, but I don't think revenge is completely off the table, either.

Perhaps, years from now, you will find yourselves at peace with this tragedy, and see that the trials of today gave us strength, which in turn enriched our tomorrows. Who knows, maybe you and Mr. Holland will go bowling together. Or, I know, perhaps you'll put him in charge of a whole bunch of pre-adolescent boys and send them into the woods, huh, Mark? No, you're the son of a bitch, Mark.

Any time any place, my friend. That's what I thought.

Friends, we must remember that experiences like these show what people are truly made of. I don't know about you, but at the moment, I am made of incandescent fury.

I suggest that we look on this as a fresh beginning, a jumping-off point for a new era of loathing and mistrust. Perhaps we can even re-open some old wounds. One thing is certain: The wounds that Mr. Holland opened will not be allowed to heal. To treat those wounds as the inevitable result of a single bad person living among better people would be the real tragedy. Now more than ever, we must put aside the commonality of our shared suffering and focus instead on concentrating our wrath on a single individual. I suggest Helen.

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