I fear the complexity of my feelings on the matter cannot be conveyed accurately. Every time I settle to think about it and where I am, I end up all over with no coherent thoughts. This conflict is important to explore, however, as I think it is important for anyone in a situation like mine, torn between deep senses of loyalty and justice. And, it is one of the main reasons why I started writing here. I will try to clarify an otherwise impossibly complex jumble of thoughts and emotions.
There are many sides to this. I will start with two, the two main ones. More will come up, this I can promise.
The first face of this is my friendship with a man I have known for more than a decade. He was always there when I needed him. He would pay for our outings if I couldn't, he would pick me up and do the driving if I had no ride, he sometimes would not take no for an answer. Even if he did something to upset me and I would distance myself from him, he would always make contact again. Our friendship was something that was important to him. I could tell, because he worked on it even when I was too busy for it. He came over one day to bury my dead fish when I couldn't bring myself to do it. You may know the joke "friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies." It was a fish body, but he did, and he didn't hold that silliness against me. He helped me move too, the only one of my friends who did. He made the time to do so.
I think I only recently realized just how good of a friend he is. Maybe it came to light in the possibility of actually losing that, as there is no telling what being in prison will do to him.
He was always there with his advice and expertise, like when I tried (and failed) to buy a home. He's been helping me as I got my ducks in a row to open my Etsy store. He's an intelligent guy with a good business sense and a mind for math and finance that I've never seen matched. And, I have known him to always be willing to help, if it was with mindless movie entertainment or knowledgeable advice, or even to offer an opinion where there was no expertise. There were times when he let me down, but he always was my friend.
Enter the crime. I've described it as horrid. That's not an accurate enough word, I'm not sure there is one. It could have been worse, that's true, but what he did was pretty bad. It's not a felony for idle reasons.
It has caused other people to remove him from their lives. It hurt innocent people, not directly by him, but they were hurt nonetheless. And these victims, no one deserves to be hurt that way. Ever. I am strong and certain in my opinion of this. If this conviction caused me to remove him from my life as others have done, I would be guiltless about it.
But I can't. I think of him as my friend, still. Even under house arrest, he is still the dependable, reliable friend that he has always been to me. His crime did not directly hurt me, or anyone I know. It didn't directly hurt anyone, really, though people were hurt in the process of it and as a result of it.
Here is the main face of the problem. I honor my friend by remembering and holding on to the part of him that he always presented to me. Reliable. Dependable. Friend. But, in doing so, am I dishonoring the people who were hurt? Am I ignoring that there were victims in all of this, and their pain is real, and likely still going on though my friend is out of the picture now? Justice is in the fiber of my being, and yet here I am, conflicted between duty to my friend and amazing sympathy for people who I have never met, who my friend has never met, who were wronged.
Does my friend deserve this compassion, this loyalty, from me? Don't the victims, too, deserve some kind of acknowledgment, some kind of recompense for what they suffered? Does it make me a bad person for not offering that? Even though they will never know, I will.
I have been a victim myself, on a similar level. The level that I hint at that would make his crime worse if that is what he had done, in fact. It is personal to me. He didn't cross that line, I know this, but if he did, it would be as if he had done it to me. Someone did once. I can't help but feel a kind of kinship to the unnamed people who were hurt. There were no amends for me then. These people deserve what I didn't get. Of that mind, too, I am strong and certain.
I don't know if I am right in staying by my friend or if I am further wronging those who were wronged by doing so. That is the discordance within me.