Let me tell you a story about Cameron Todd Willingham. True story. Mr. Willingham lived in a house with his three beautiful children. It turns out the wiring wasn’t very good and the house burned down, killing his kids. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the police decided to investigate him for arson. They thought he’d lit the fire. And as it turns out, forensic arson investigation, or whatever they call it, is all junk science. So Mr. Willingham was convicted of murdering his kids before anybody figured out the evidence was screwed up. He was sentenced to death. The report that pretty well exonerated Mr. Willingham was sent to the Governor Perry in a last-ditch effort to get a stay of execution, but Perry didn’t want to listen to the “supposed experts” even though every bit of evidence presented at trial was rebutted. So Willingham was executed for a crime he probably didn’t commit.
Or maybe he did. I mean, nobody proved he didn’t, right? I mean, all sorts of crazy, terrible things happen. That’s not the point. The point is that there are horrible things in the world and none of it makes any sense. Because there are demons in the world and when your number comes up it doesn’t matter that you’ve lived a good life. The world is not fair and dwelling on it only makes it worse. But that’s not the point either. The point is that we all have to get to sleep somehow, so we tell ourselves stories to try to make sense of it all—or at least to distract ourselves enough that we can pretend it makes sense.
One of the more clever stories is that story about the person who has so little money she managed to qualify for medicaid in Mississippi but somehow has “all the luxuries.” Check the income threshhold yourself. If a family of four brings home $500 a month, they’re over income. I mean, if we can manage to believe the story, I guess the world makes a bit more sense. I mean, poverty isn’t real because of ALL THE LUXURIES, and maybe we don’t have to worry about it because people make choices and life is fair, right, we can tell ourselves. Except that I’m just not gullible enough to believe it anymore.
So I’ve moved on to another story that I find a bit easier to swallow. The new story is Enough of all this, let’s just fix what we can and screw it all I’ll pay what it takes. And I guess if you don’t want to chip in, screw that too, because we’ve all got to believe in something and one of the things I tell myself is that we’re all in this together and we’re all going to do what we can.