By: Dr. Michael Barry
After Acquittal Shocks Nation, Can We Trust Our Legal System and Forgive with So Many Unanswered Questions?
A week after Casey Anthony’s acquittal in the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, shocked the country, people are asking questions. Can we trust our legal system? What really happened? Why are we so connected to this tragedy? And can we forgive on any number of levels?
Soon after the verdict was read, Americans began to sign a petition to enact Caylee’s Law, a mandate that would require parents to report missing children within 24 hours. Casey Anthony waited 30 days before reporting Caylee missing, a fact that caused many to struggle with her innocence.
Forgiveness expert and author Dr. Michael Barry says Anthony’s case has gripped the nation because of the many emotional issues wrapped around the evidence. In his book The Forgiveness Project: The Startling Discovery of How to Overcome Cancer, Find Health, and Achieve Peace, Barry writes about his extensive clinical research on the relationship between stress, negative feelings, unforgiveness and physical health.
“This case has caused so much anger in our country,” Barry says. “We don’t even know Casey Anthony and never had the pleasure of knowing her little girl, Caylee. But we are so angry—angry at the perceived injustice of the decision, angry at Casey, angry at others in Caylee’s life for not protecting her. But what we need to ask ourselves is if we can truly forgive what seems unforgiveable in this world, and why we should even contemplate forgiveness in the first place.”
The case has caused many to also call into question the fairness and effectiveness of the U.S. legal system, many stating that they no longer trust the courts.
“There are many Americans who are truly upset by this verdict, yet we had no personal connection to those people’s lives,” Barry added. “Think about those who did have a connection. How much will they need to work on the feelings they are experiencing now? Where does their guilt and anger lie and will they be able to let it go? Who does this really affect and what is the impact on family members or even on many in America who are outraged by this turn of events?”
Barry’s research has found that the immune system and forgiveness are very much connected and that negative or stressful feelings can actually prevent physical healing within the body. His specific clinical trials involve how unforgiveness and holding onto anger, bitterness and resentment is a stressor on our bodies, thereby damaging our health.
The disease of unforgiveness can impact every organ and it is an emotional disorder that can be prevented, treated and cured. In fact, Barry says that six out of 10 patients he works with at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America state that they are struggling with unforgiveness issues.
Barry is Director of Pastoral Care at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America , where he specializes in the connection between spirituality and health. He has served in ministry for more than 20 years and has appeared on numerous radio and television shows around the country. He is the author of A Reason for Hope, A Season for Hope and The Art of Caregiving.
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