Monday, July 11, 2011

Why I Didn't Pay Attention To the Casey Anthony Trial

It's been a few days now since the verdict came down in the "trial of the decade." Perhaps you're one of the rare people who have no clue who Casey Anthony is. If that is the case, I am envious. The only things that I know about her and the court case are this:

1) Her 3 year old daughter went missing and she didn't report it to police for a whole month. Caylee was found dead several months later.

2) She was arrested and there was a big trial

3) The media frenzy around the trial rivalled the Simpson trial

4) Anthony was found not guilty, will serve about 2 weeks in jail for a lesser charge and then will be released.

5) Millions of people worldwide were outraged at the verdict.

When I look at that list, it turns out I do know a fair amount about the case...and this comes from someone who PURPOSELY AVOIDED the coverage like it was the plague. And why is that? Because to me there is something macabre or at least unsettling about millions of people worldwide fixated on a murder trial.

Let me be clear. Little Caylee Anthony's death was a great tragedy, awfully sad to be sure. However, in saying that, how many hundreds or thousands more children are also murdered each year worldwide, yet we aren't glued to CNN every night listening to pundits erupt in outrage over their plights, are we?

CNN and other networks cover trials like this because they know that murder sells. People will watch and their advertising revenue will go up. So that explains the media coverage.

But what about us? What is it about us that makes us watch story after story about murders, or for that matter other crimes or wars or natural disasters? There seems to be a natural fixation that sets in when we see an ambulance rush by or when we come across a car wreck on the highway.

What is my point? Firstly, it is not to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that the world is all happy-go-lucky. But why become so fixated on tragedies if it is going to serve no purpose but to fill our heads with images and descriptions of atrocities? I think that if we didn't have such an almost-fascination towards the negative or violence, then the nightly news coverage would be much different than it is today. Tune into the 6 o'clock news tomorrow (something I rarely do) and the first five stories will be about a local murder, a local theft, a fatal car accident, a disease outbreak and the conflict in Libya.

Let me be clear: there is a real need for action and compassion in both our local communities and globally. We can do our part to ease pain, foster peace, and raise justice issues. We should not stand idly by as we see atrocities and pain around us.

But I'll ask you a question that I need to ask myself: Wouldn't it be better to ACT, or even stop and PRAY, rather than spending too many valuable minutes on CNN.com?

I will not get caught up in the almost-entertainment-like coverage of all that's wrong in the world.

Mark Andrew Alward