My novel, The Witness, is so named because a young American tourist, Jennifer Jeffries, is the victim of a brutal assault and eventually testifies in a British court against the man who attacked her. Few of us will be required to give legal evidence or testimony, but in a larger sense we are all witnesses. Our actions day by day testify to — or belie — the moral code we espouse.
This process begins when we are children, because children teach us the importance of taking time to learn and time to play (often the same thing in their world). Toddlers teach us that falling down is not the end but simply the prelude to getting up once again. Because young children have no artifice, they often demonstrate honesty (occasionally embarrassing their parents). Also, without realizing it, children attest to the discipline they do or do not receive at home.
Although we typically use the term, ‘role models,’ parents are witnesses to their children when they try to behave with integrity and love. Parents teach children priorities by choosing how they spend their time and deciding which activities come first. Do parents schedule time to be together without the children? Do they turn off the television and pick up a book? Do they sometimes let the dinner dishes wait because assistance with homework is required? Or stop folding the laundry because a son or daughter needs an encouraging hug?
When we negotiate difficult traffic situations without losing our tempers, we are demonstrating the merit of self-control. When we have regular medical exams, we are showing respect for our bodies. When we listen without judging, we are practicing kindness and mercy. When we worship on a regular basis, we are acknowledging our humility and our belief in a higher authority.
Other characters in The Witness illustrate their ethics through their behavior: Sergeant Casey, who acts with honor; Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sinclair, whose love encompasses patience and understanding; Dr. Theodore Knowles, who believes that healing is possible through the work he does; and Reverend Neil Goodwyn, who sees redemptive spiritual forces at work in the lives of those he counsels.
Your life can endorse the necessity of faith, the resilience of the human spirit, the power of hope, the rule of justice, the importance of family, and much more.
Read The Witness. Be a witness!