Innocence

An Essay By Ben // 3/7/2010

Dear Homeschooling Friends,

The word "innocence" and the phrase "respect for innocence" have been in my thoughts during the last two weeks. In fact, they have been with me ever since I wrote innocence in as one of the inspirations for apricotpie on the about page. At first my thoughts turned toward what innocence does not mean to me. But later I began to hear it in a different way. This is how it is coming to me now:

I am in a courtroom looking at an unshaven and haggard man who sits in front of the room. He is being tried for stealing. The jury goes out and then returns. They pass a note to the judge. He reads: "innocent." The man wipes his mouth and looks relieved. They have set him free. He is innocent.

Innocent. An objective word. A concrete word. A courtroom word. Previously I had looked to find innocence in people who acted or spoke in a certain way that to me seemed innocent. I thought that perhaps being a victim made you an innocent or that innocence meant needing protection or being defenseless. I thought perhaps that not being responsible, not knowing, like a young child, made you innocent, too. The way the word is now coming to me is different. Now, when I hear innocent I hear not guilty of a crime.

It is as though the word is being stripped of all its paraphernalia so that it is left for me to see it in its most bare and basic form. Respect for innocence is respect for a person who does not commit crimes

Respect for innocence means you encourage the person who is living a spotless life. You root for that person silently or stand up and defend that person if the time comes. This goes against our nature sometimes. We may want to see the person fall.

I also hear another meaning in the phrase "respect for innocence." I hear a kind of longing to be innocent ourselves. I hear a cry for childhood. "Respect for innocence" now sounds to me like "respect for the child." I think this is important.

Why are children innocent? Is it because they can't talk well and look like angels? Is it because they are often victims of unkindness? Is it because they don't know right from wrong? No! It is because young children have not yet committed crimes, and by crimes I mean they have not really done anything that bad yet, like lying, deceiving, mocking, hating their parents, loving comfort, misusing their sexuality, closing their eyes to the needs of others, giving in to despair, seeking their own glory and contentment.

There is much, much more to say, but this is all I am understanding clearly now. Maybe there is one more thing. How do we return to a state of guiltlessness? How does a thief become free of the oppressive weight of his crime? Three words come to me: God, forgiveness, and responsibility. But this must be for later...

Enjoy apricotpie!

-Ben

Comments

...

Amen.

LoriAnn | Mon, 03/08/2010

I agree

Very well written, Ben

Julie | Mon, 03/08/2010

Formerly Kestrel

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