Sometimes a three word image search brings up a sea of faces. I was not really surprised that the first several pages of results were of television’s Nancy Grace and lots of folks whose trials she covered. I actually scrolled down a bit before coming across this image of convicted child abuser James Marquis in Missouri. Marquis was convicted of forcing his ten year old daughter to stand in a corner for ten hours a day. He was also found in possession of child pornography.
What is frightening is that Marquis looks so ordinary. Like a guy you might see standing in line at Walmart or cheering on the sidelines at a little league game. It’s scary that child abusers don’t have some scarlet letter A tattooed on their foreheads. And that is life itself in a nutshell. Things often are not what they appear to be. You rarely really know the people around you. A friend who had seemed steadfast and true may one day prove to be not a friend at all. You may discover that someone you have loved and trusted really is not lovable nor trustworthy.
I find myself thinking today that so much of what we come to rely upon and count on is actually quite fleeting. Always, it seems, life will surprise you and it may well be impossible to tell the good guys from the bad guys without a score card. People set so much store in appearances, which can be deceiving, even when no deceit is intended. I’ve come to think that the only solution is to trust your gut, and to back off whenever someone sets off alarm bells in your head. Fallible as one’s judgement may be, there really isn’t anything else. Unless and until, of course, Hawthorne’s branding scheme for criminals comes to pass.