On Tuesday, I listened as I drove from one appointment to another as the radio announcer read the verdict of Casey Anthony, the mother accused of killing her two-year-old daughter. Unless you are living under a refrigerator box, you know that the jury found her not guilty.
I don’t know what her part in the murder of this child was. I do know that all the experts are saying that the verdict of “Not Guilty” does not mean that this young woman is innocent. In reality, the defense lawyer did a masterful job by throwing out the possibility that Casey’s father, George, was the person who was responsible for all the problems. While the defense never presented any evidence that Mr. Anthony was involved in any way, their mere accusations caused the jury to questions him. The alternate jury member said, “There was simply something wrong with Mr. Anthony.”
Often when accusations are leveled against a person, the fact that no evidence is lost and the accusation remains. This matter was never settled or even entered into evidence during the trial. Therefore, guilty or not, Mr. Anthony will live forever with a stained character.
Years ago, The Special Gathering, a ministry within the mentally challenged community, moved one of our programs into a church. While we had met in church buildings before, we had not met at the same time that the congregation was present. Things went better than we had ever imagined. Yet, there were one or two people who were leery of our members because “they ARE different.”
One elderly woman who was tittering on the verge of senility was convinced that our members were thieves. Several times she was certain that our members had stolen her purse. Actually, she had mislaid it; and the missing purse was quickly retrieved.
About 30 years ago, from personal experience, I learned the devastating harm that loose and unfounded accusations can do to a person. The Lord graciously and quickly redeemed my reputation. However, I was taught how difficult it is to live under the veil of false perceptions.
Each of us makes daily decisions regarding how we will approach others and their reputations. Have you been in a situation in which you have been falsely accused? How did you handle it? Have you ever found that you participated in hurting the reputation of someone else? Were you able to help erase the false perception you may have helped to establish?