in life, observations

Reading about the past

It’s a cold, windy morning. I am waiting for the bus, sitting on a frozen bench. My face is burning with the gushes of wind that are blowing at me from every direction. My mind is burning with the words in front of me. I am reading a LongRead about the MacDonald murders that happened in 1970 and have haunted the annals of law since the past 40 years. The story is incredulous but something I’ve read and heard many times over. The length to which judicial process allows a person to go to prove their innocence is amazing. I cannot say whether Jeffrey MacDonald is guilty or not, except for the fact that everything in the article points towards it. But what matters is the strength of human resolve.

The real story in all of this is that of government prosecutor Brian Murtagh. He has been standing there these past 40 years as a defendant of justice, even when his own motives were questioned in court. He has truly been the gatekeeper that has kept MacDonald at bay from civil society. There is not even a need to question his motives. He might be drab, boring and a bureaucrat, but he’s a good one at that. He’s been fighting this battle on a government salary, in the face of all of media and society judging him while they also judge MacDonald. There is no separating them, they are MacDonald and Murtagh, they will go down fighting till the end. If one day Murtagh knows for sure that MacDonald has no way of getting out of prison, he’ll rest or perhaps even move on to some other case. Until then, they are locked in battle.

I notice now how biased I have become while reading the article. This is the other teaching of this article. Somewhere in the middle, the author diverts to talk about how every author and every journalist writes with an agenda in mind, keeping some facts to himself and highlighting the others. There is no unbiased reporting because being biased is one of the most basic of animal instincts. We as humans have never gotten rid of that emotion and I dare say that we will not. Being biased helps us explain our actions to ourselves. It helps us rationalize that one man is better than the other. That one nation is better than the other.

News reports define us. Even little things like tweets and messages have the capability of shaping our thoughts. If I start reading pro-Android blogs, suddenly, I’ll see the many benefits of Android that overshadow iOS. Even in the books we read, we see that information is what creates our opinions and thoughts. Should we let the current facts cloud or judgement or should we seek out more knowledge and sources, only ensuring that we become cynical in the understanding that everyone acts for themselves and there is no right or wrong in the world because in the end, it’s all the same?

In the end, all we remember are the great fights and the people behind them. We remember Hitler and Churchill, Zeus and Cronus, MacDonald and Murtagh. I’ll leave you with a quote from the article that literally defines the lives of these two men who are probably inseparable till death do them part –

Jeffrey MacDonald hates Brian Murtagh.