Who are we to decide?

July 29, 2011
Terrell and Janna Wiebe |

I have been thinking about this for a long time, and the recent terrorist attack in Norway and militia banning the WFP in Somalia has finally pushed me over the edge. It’s time to say something.

We are a broken people, and have broken relationships with each other, creation, and God. Within this brokenness that it seems that all over the world people believe that they have the right to decide what others deserve.

While this is nothing new, it is something that has been brought to my attention so often lately by two different court trials.

The Casey Anthony trial was inescapable in the USA. It was on local news, national news, and almost any talk show and reality show. Casey Anthony is a 25 year old woman who was charged with murdering her 3 year old daughter, Caylee. The case was so high profile that the jury had to be sequestered so they wouldn’t be influenced by the media, which for the majority declared Casey guilty before the trial even started. The case gained such public momentum that the people cried for the death penalty if Casey was found guilty. The prosecution complied and the stakes were raised.

The trial ended early in July, with the jury finding Casey not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter and aggravated child abuse due to lack of evidence. The outcome outraged the public, even more so when it was announced that Casey would be a free woman 10 days later.

I could not go anywhere online without seeing something about the trial in the comments section of on the sidebar. It was madness. I was also quite shocked by the outcome of the trial, so I was reading lots of articles on CBC and some American news websites, looking for the general reaction of the American public.

I was shocked by what I read. Commenters, logged in on their Facebook accounts so their real identities were shared, openly declared that Casey Anthony ought to “watch her back” alongside calls for “street justice” to be done to her once she was released. The threats got so bad that Casey is now being protected by the law, the same as those in the witness protection program.

Still reeling from those comments, I visited the CBC website a few days later only to read about Kim Walker, a man from Saskatchewan who is facing jail time for shooting his daughter’s boyfriend. Walker claimed it was self-defence, and that he was saving his daughter from the clutches of both her boyfriend and drug addiction. Meanwhile, the boyfriend was unarmed when Walker emptied a gun on him. Once again the comments made my jaw drop.

“Kim Walker deserves a medal - had Walker not done this good deed and his daughter died, [the boyfriend] would've simply moved on to the next vulnerable teen girl and ruined her life, too!”

“Kim Walker is dad of the year!”

“More parents like this and probably drug addiction problem would be solved for good in Canada.”

There were other comments too, by those who were “appalled” by the comments that supported Walker’s actions. Those comments that condemned his actions had twice as many dislikes as likes. The overall view of the commenters was that Walker was in the right. Some simply called it for what it was, saying:

“So I guess I can play God.”

“Get a life, who did he think he was, God?”

These stories are prime examples of how we as human beings feel we have the right to play God – to decide what happens to others, what they deserve. In my opinion the commenters wishing death to Casey Anthony are no better than those applauding a murderer. In both cases, they think that Casey Anthony, Kim Walker, and the boyfriend are all getting what they deserve - either penalty or praise.

Who are we to decide what others deserve? Who are we to decide to end another’s life as we see fit? To say that these people are getting what they deserve is as justifiable as Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik saying that his teenaged victims deserved their deaths in order to purify Norway.

I’m not sure where we got this notion that God gives those what they deserve – if this was true there would be more food in Somalia, less money in most celebrities’ bank accounts, and not even close to enough grace for me. I know some amazing people of faith who suffer from endless health issues. If we got what we deserved, wouldn’t they be given perfect health?

Jesus showed love, mercy, and respect to those who society thought didn’t deserve it. Women, the poor, outcasts, lepers, you name it, he loved them. Tax collectors who deserved punishment instead received one-on-one visits over a meal with Christ.

If we really want to play God, then let’s focus on being imitators of Christ, and not reapers of hate. Our world is a scary enough place as it is.

-Janna Wiebe

“Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends.” – Gandalf, LOTR


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