Let’s settle something by saying no one thinks they are a bad person. We, each of us, are the last person to admit we are bad. (Our jails are filled with innocent people, apparently.)
Two girls, one Scottish, the other Irish, were caught smuggling £1.5million in cocaine out of Peru. That is a lot of misery. Having been caught they (firstly, were glad it wasn’t Thailand or Indonesia) went on to fabricate a story about being kidnapped then blackmailed. They eventually changed their plea to guilty, and were subsequently incarcerated.
One of the girls, released on parole, was interviewed and said two things that are either compounded naivety, or an inability to face truth. Probably both.
She stated what they did was a ‘moment of madness,’ and that she ‘wasn’t a bad person.’
I beg to differ on both accounts.
The ‘moment of madness’ was a calculated, deliberate act that took time, energy, risk and yes, a touch of madness. But this is far from a momentary lapse of reason. We all have those but this isn’t one of them. To relegate this crime to a moment of madness is plainly untrue, and disingenuous of her to suggest so. This was one long moment in which the cupidity of their actions could have been walked away from, time and again. A moment of madness – far from it.
As to what defines a bad person. It is our actions. We have no other way of telling, or making a judgment. The courts certainly don’t.
What is bad is bad for others. The suffering, which in a moment of lucidity the girls admitted to, would have been colossal. People would not have merely got high – some would have died in the thrall of these drugs.
Yes, she was, they were, bad. They conspired to smuggle, they put many lives at extreme risk, they thought personal gain of more value than human lives, they lied, and who knows whether their plea of guilty was a genuine admittance of guilt or forced on them to get a reduced sentence. If this doesn’t all add up to bad, what does?
Of course they don’t have to remain that way. (And maybe they are on a journey, possibly evidenced by their frank admission that what they could have unleashed would have been on their consciences, and other people’s headstones, for a long time.)
One way to move on from bad behaviour is to admit to it, take the rap – be responsible. That would have gained her a credibility she surely has exempted herself from to date.