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Forum: Expand the circle of ‘us’

Updated: January 29, 2013 6:43AM



The murder of little children is heartbreaking beyond description. Human beings are naturally compassionate and loving (unless severely damaged), and so we are stricken with grief and sorrow at the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.

Every day, children are shot down on the streets of Chicago and are killed and maimed as ‘“collateral damage” in wars. Millions of children in the world are exploited, abused and denied safety and love.

How much grief can we bear? Not enough to accommodate the suffering in this world. To protect ourselves, we unconsciously seek degrees of separation. We distract and numb ourselves. We close our hearts.

If Jesus or Buddha were hired as policy consultants, they would no doubt insist that the elimination of poverty, violence and war be our top priorities — more so than military contracts and corporate profits but also more important than sports, celebrity culture and electronic devices.

The first step is to expand the circle of who we consider “us,” which means making ourselves vulnerable to more pain. As we embrace and process that pain, our capacity for compassion deepens. We then find healing and joy in helping to reduce suffering in this troubled world.

George Ochsenfeld

Monee

TV in courts will distort public’s view

Don’t newspaper stories about a recent televised court hearing in DuPage County tell much about the kinds of court cases that will be televised if the Illinois Supreme Court permanently allows cameras in trial courts?

The hearing involved a murder case in which a woman is accused of stabbing to death her 7-year-old son and a 5-year-old girl she was baby-sitting. Two other cases have been televised so far — a street-shooting murder in Kankakee and a beating murder of an elderly woman in a western Illinois county by a man who is a suspect in seven other murders.

These cases are not typical cases heard in the trial courts. TV news will broadcast only sensational, celebrity or highly unusual cases because TV is in the entertainment business.

The people cheerleading the experimental program say audio and video recordings give “transparency” to court proceedings and “educates” the public about what happens in courts. What nonsense. Televised proceedings in high-profile cases distort what happens in a court’s regular day.

The Illinois Supreme Court decided nearly 30 years ago that cameras in the supreme and appellate courts were acceptable under established guidelines. That court rejected cameras in trial courts because, in major part, it was feared that televising trials or later showing excerpts would misrepresent the typical work that courts do. Nothing has materially changed since then, except the current membership of the Supreme Court.

Dennis M. Dohm

Retired judge

Oak Lawn



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