Author Topic: What Shall Be Done About Rita?  (Read 1945 times)

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Online Asteriktos

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What Shall Be Done About Rita?
« on: September 20, 2014, 05:48:54 PM »
If tl;dr, please see the cliffs at the end.  8)

So, the question: are we always under a moral obligation to disclose [to someone in particular] a serious crime or harmful act we have committed? The 'someone in particular' would differ from situation to situation, but I think you'll get the idea of what I have in mind from the example below. But first a clarification: for the purposes of this thread I'm not asking about what the (civil) law says, but rather am asking about concepts like integrity, compassion, repentance, honesty, and morals or ethics. I'm curious about the topic in general, but I'll give a specific example to illustrate (if you think the example sucks, feel free to just answer the question in general, or give a better example).

Let's say John murdered Susan 14 years ago for some reason or other (maybe Susan had an affair or something). John was a scoundrel and a fiend back then, and frankly so was Susan. They both did a ton of drugs; they lived mostly off what they could steal and sell; they went out on weekends vandalizing things like cars and public monuments just for fun; they regularly mugged people, not only for the money, but also because they got a thrill out of the look of fear in someone's eyes; etc. John never got investigated, much less put on trial or convicted, for the murder of Susan. Susan also had no living relatives to mourn her. So John seemed to be free and clear. However, John still tried to turn his life around after the murder, at first not so much from remorse as from a fear of spending life in prison or getting killed himself.

John made progress for 14 years, trying to not make the same mistakes he had before (drugs, theft, etc.), and he had indeed made a ton of progress, getting clean/sober, becoming a 'productive' member of society, and so on. As time went by the reasons John had for improving and doing 'the right thing' changed to ones most would consider more admirable and less self-serving, and it now horrifies him that he was ever able to commit a murder. John also got married about 4 years ago to Rita, and now has two kids with her. But now John has a problem. For years he has lived with what he did to Susan. He confessed it in Church, talked to a therapist about it, and after years of guilt and remorse he came to terms with it. Not that he thinks lightly of it, but he tries to focus more on what positive steps he can take rather than negative ones he has long since repented of.

Still, John has begun to feel something gnawing at him: should he tell his wife? Doesn't Rita have a right to know? Isn't keeping something like this secret from your spouse basically the biggest possible breach in honesty, trust, communication, etc. you could commit? John also feels like there is something between he and Rita, like he has not yet truly trusted her or fully thrown himself into the marriage. He feels like, at least with some things, he must always keep her at arm's length. On the other hand, John doesn't see what good can come of telling Rita. It would surely devastate her, and cause turmoil and trauma for the family (including the extended families if they ever found out, and even if they didn't find out there might be collateral damage as John/Rita struggled to deal with the situation). Telling her might very well cause the marriage to disintegrate, it might create at atmosphere of distrust and fear even if the marriage didn't officially end, etc. And who knows what other dominoes could fall? Is it worth risking such destruction--at least some of which is almost certain to happen--just to tell someone something they don't even suspect could be a possibility?

What exactly is gained by telling, what avoided, and what lost; and what is gained by keeping it a secret, what avoided, and what gained? Is the compassionate thing to tell the truth, and let the consequences come, whatever they are? Is it the morally right thing to do to be completely honest, open, etc.? No matter how much John has changed, isn't being capable of such an extreme thing like murder an indication of at least some part of who John is, or at least wrapped up in who he could be? Or, would it be morally permissible for John to 'test the waters' and try to gauge how Rita would react, and decide if he should proceed to tell her (and how) based on that? Or should he instead keep the murder a secret from her? Is the moral and loving thing to not say anything in such a situation?

CLIFFS
- Evil John murdered scumbag Susan 14 years ago, but was never caught or punished
- John got his life straight, became a better person, married Rita 4 years ago, and now has two kids with her
- John wonders if he should (or ethically must) tell Rita about the murder, being faithful to a strict application of the virtues of honesty and forthrightness, but probably also causing significant trauma and harm
- John isn't sure what the moral thing--or for that matter the loving thing--to do would be

So what is the right thing to do, in this situation, or one similar?

Offline jewish voice

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Re: What Shall Be Done About Rita?
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2014, 06:11:54 PM »
Being this happened before. John tells and his new wife Rita and they hide together. Till the cops show up in California when he's in his late 60's and goes to jail for the murder. The whole community is shocked to find out his past even his 2 kids and grandkids.

Offline JamesR

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Re: What Shall Be Done About Rita?
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2014, 06:19:15 PM »
The truth shall set you free.

I've always been one to believe that total honesty is the best solution. It leaves your fate up to fate and God's judgment opposed to our own lies and judgment. Most of the time I think the truth inevitably comes out anyway, so you might as well reveal it yourself at the best moment, instead of being caught and facing a worser fate as a liar.

Offline Punch

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Re: What Shall Be Done About Rita?
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2014, 06:32:36 PM »
My advice is always "you have the right to remain silent, so develop that ability to do so".
I would be happy to agree with you, but then both of us would be wrong.

Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: What Shall Be Done About Rita?
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2014, 06:36:16 PM »
My advice is always "you have the right to remain silent, so develop that ability to do so".
I like this advice the best.
God bless!

Offline quietmorning

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Re: What Shall Be Done About Rita?
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2014, 07:14:04 PM »
Get honest with your self.
Get honest with God.
Do what ever you can possible do to make ammends for the devastation you caused Rita and your children the moment you brought them into your lie.
Turn yourself in placing yourself in God's hands, let the chips fall where He puts them.


In His Mercy,
BethAnna

Offline Minnesotan

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Re: What Shall Be Done About Rita?
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2014, 08:33:16 PM »
Reminds me of Sara Jane Olson.
I'm not going to be posting as much on OC.Net as before. I might stop in once in a while though. But I've come to realize that real life is more important.

Offline Punch

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Re: What Shall Be Done About Rita?
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2014, 09:13:51 PM »
Get honest with your self.
Get honest with God.
Do what ever you can possible do to make ammends for the devastation you caused Rita and your children the moment you brought them into your lie.
Turn yourself in placing yourself in God's hands, let the chips fall where He puts them.




Sounds to me like he and Rita have had a good life. If he keeps his mouth shut, there should not be any devastation. If he tells her, all of their lives are ruined. That is why you keep things to yourself. The only way to keep a secret between to people is to make sure one of them is dead.
I would be happy to agree with you, but then both of us would be wrong.

Offline quietmorning

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Re: What Shall Be Done About Rita?
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2014, 09:29:00 PM »
Get honest with your self.
Get honest with God.
Do what ever you can possible do to make ammends for the devastation you caused Rita and your children the moment you brought them into your lie.
Turn yourself in placing yourself in God's hands, let the chips fall where He puts them.




Sounds to me like he and Rita have had a good life. If he keeps his mouth shut, there should not be any devastation. If he tells her, all of their lives are ruined. That is why you keep things to yourself. The only way to keep a secret between to people is to make sure one of them is dead.

Changed, yes, ruined?  Not necessarily...families have survived much much worse than a man who comitted murder coming clean. 
In His Mercy,
BethAnna

Offline Punch

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Re: What Shall Be Done About Rita?
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2014, 01:14:27 AM »
Get honest with your self.
Get honest with God.
Do what ever you can possible do to make ammends for the devastation you caused Rita and your children the moment you brought them into your lie.
Turn yourself in placing yourself in God's hands, let the chips fall where He puts them.




Sounds to me like he and Rita have had a good life. If he keeps his mouth shut, there should not be any devastation. If he tells her, all of their lives are ruined. That is why you keep things to yourself. The only way to keep a secret between to people is to make sure one of them is dead.

Changed, yes, ruined?  Not necessarily...families have survived much much worse than a man who comitted murder coming clean. 


Why even take the chance? 
I would be happy to agree with you, but then both of us would be wrong.

Offline quietmorning

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Re: What Shall Be Done About Rita?
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2014, 07:40:42 AM »
Get honest with your self.
Get honest with God.
Do what ever you can possible do to make ammends for the devastation you caused Rita and your children the moment you brought them into your lie.
Turn yourself in placing yourself in God's hands, let the chips fall where He puts them.


Sounds to me like he and Rita have had a good life. If he keeps his mouth shut, there should not be any devastation. If he tells her, all of their lives are ruined. That is why you keep things to yourself. The only way to keep a secret between to people is to make sure one of them is dead.

Changed, yes, ruined?  Not necessarily...families have survived much much worse than a man who comitted murder coming clean.  


Why even take the chance?  

I can live through the truth.  If a man has the COURAGE to be honest, I'll stick with him no matter what comes up (though I won't join him in further criminal acts.)  If he is a COWARD and cannot face his own truth - and it is uncovered FOR HIM (as it usually is, eventually - as it ALL comes out in the wash) - then he not only betrayed me and his children, he betrayed himself and I WILL NOT be there for the fall out.  I'll stay on the ship and go down with it if it is the truth - but if he is choosing to put his own battle ax to it and sink it, I'm grabbing a life-boat.

The answer is simple, because Rita and the children are worth the truth.  

Love - true love - does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  If he lives this lie he does not love her and his children, he loves himself and is afraid of losing the control over HER choices.  He is continuing a manipulation of her and the children.

Because a true amending of ways does not include burial of the truth and further deceit.  
« Last Edit: September 21, 2014, 07:42:04 AM by quietmorning »
In His Mercy,
BethAnna

Offline WPM

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Re: What Shall Be Done About Rita?
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2014, 08:10:38 AM »
Are you trying to tell a famous story about a murder? ...
« Last Edit: September 21, 2014, 08:13:21 AM by WPM »
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Offline quietmorning

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Re: What Shall Be Done About Rita?
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2014, 08:29:36 AM »
Are you trying to tell a famous story about a murder? ...

Are you asking me?  

(if you are asking me:)

**chuckles**

No, it wasn't murder and absolutely wasn't famous - it was an attempted murder, though - and I had no clue . . . and found out by the wrong people at the wrong time - to near detriment to myself and my two boys.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2014, 08:31:44 AM by quietmorning »
In His Mercy,
BethAnna

Offline Punch

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Re: What Shall Be Done About Rita?
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2014, 08:43:44 AM »
Get honest with your self.
Get honest with God.
Do what ever you can possible do to make ammends for the devastation you caused Rita and your children the moment you brought them into your lie.
Turn yourself in placing yourself in God's hands, let the chips fall where He puts them.


Sounds to me like he and Rita have had a good life. If he keeps his mouth shut, there should not be any devastation. If he tells her, all of their lives are ruined. That is why you keep things to yourself. The only way to keep a secret between to people is to make sure one of them is dead.

Changed, yes, ruined?  Not necessarily...families have survived much much worse than a man who comitted murder coming clean.  


Why even take the chance?  

I can live through the truth.  If a man has the COURAGE to be honest, I'll stick with him no matter what comes up (though I won't join him in further criminal acts.)  If he is a COWARD and cannot face his own truth - and it is uncovered FOR HIM (as it usually is, eventually - as it ALL comes out in the wash) - then he not only betrayed me and his children, he betrayed himself and I WILL NOT be there for the fall out.  I'll stay on the ship and go down with it if it is the truth - but if he is choosing to put his own battle ax to it and sink it, I'm grabbing a life-boat.

The answer is simple, because Rita and the children are worth the truth.  

Love - true love - does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  If he lives this lie he does not love her and his children, he loves himself and is afraid of losing the control over HER choices.  He is continuing a manipulation of her and the children.

Because a true amending of ways does not include burial of the truth and further deceit.  


It is hardly deceit. It has nothing to do with her, and it happened before he knew her. And given that women are known for not being able to keep their mouth shut, she will end up being a single mother and her child raised without a father. That is what happens when you think with your glands instead of your brain. He did that once and learned his lesson. Let the past be the past. Tomorrow will be hard enough as it is.
I would be happy to agree with you, but then both of us would be wrong.

Offline quietmorning

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Re: What Shall Be Done About Rita?
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2014, 08:48:13 AM »
Get honest with your self.
Get honest with God.
Do what ever you can possible do to make ammends for the devastation you caused Rita and your children the moment you brought them into your lie.
Turn yourself in placing yourself in God's hands, let the chips fall where He puts them.


Sounds to me like he and Rita have had a good life. If he keeps his mouth shut, there should not be any devastation. If he tells her, all of their lives are ruined. That is why you keep things to yourself. The only way to keep a secret between to people is to make sure one of them is dead.

Changed, yes, ruined?  Not necessarily...families have survived much much worse than a man who comitted murder coming clean.  


Why even take the chance?  

I can live through the truth.  If a man has the COURAGE to be honest, I'll stick with him no matter what comes up (though I won't join him in further criminal acts.)  If he is a COWARD and cannot face his own truth - and it is uncovered FOR HIM (as it usually is, eventually - as it ALL comes out in the wash) - then he not only betrayed me and his children, he betrayed himself and I WILL NOT be there for the fall out.  I'll stay on the ship and go down with it if it is the truth - but if he is choosing to put his own battle ax to it and sink it, I'm grabbing a life-boat.

The answer is simple, because Rita and the children are worth the truth.  

Love - true love - does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  If he lives this lie he does not love her and his children, he loves himself and is afraid of losing the control over HER choices.  He is continuing a manipulation of her and the children.

Because a true amending of ways does not include burial of the truth and further deceit.  


It is hardly deceit. It has nothing to do with her, and it happened before he knew her. And given that women are known for not being able to keep their mouth shut, she will end up being a single mother and her child raised without a father. That is what happens when you think with your glands instead of your brain. He did that once and learned his lesson. Let the past be the past. Tomorrow will be hard enough as it is.

Well, alrighty then.  :)
In His Mercy,
BethAnna