Katherine Knight was the first Australian woman to be jailed for the term of her natural life. You have to be peculiarly grim and detestable to be incarcerated forever in my country. Usually we can sell drugs to children, steal oodles of money and manhandle ladies and get away with it.
But Katherine liked to push the judicial boundaries and stabbed one of her husbands thirty-seven times. Afterwards she wholly skinned him and hung his ‘suit’ in the doorway of their lounge room. Then she oven-baked his buttocks and boiled his head in a soup pot with an assortment of root vegetables. The judge said her crime was “beyond contemplation in civilised society” so she’s been jailed for eternity.
When I read about Katherine in the newspaper, I declared to my husband, “She reminds me of my grade one teacher. Mind you she didn’t boil our body parts on a stovetop but she was super-mean and had an unfortunate face - she looked like a bulldog chewing a wasp. She used to belt us across the back with her one metre ruler. Those were dark times for me, honey.”
Katherine and my teacher got me brooding over the ways we foster meanness. I, for one, could fill a book with tales about my miserable, unruly behaviour. Eons ago a boy invited me to the cinema but when we got there I said something like, “I’m just dashing to the toilet, be back in a jiffy” and I utterly deserted him. Another day I filled a paper bag with dog poo and set it alight on my neighbour’s porch. I could go on but I won’t, in case I end up with zero friends.
But once I was studying psychotherapy, my teachers encouraged decision makers to consider ‘self, context and other’ whenever we make a choice.
Now if we explore Katherine Knight’s attempt to turn her hubby into a winter stew it is pretty darn obvious that she was bat-shit-crazy and didn’t think about him for a second. But if she’d been sane enough to ask, “I wonder how Mr Knight will feel about being chopped apart?” she might have come up with another way to meet her needs. Likewise, if I’d stopped to consider what it would be like to have a date disappear without saying goodbye I could have saved him from confusion and me from shame. Also, the wasp-chewing bulldog might have kept her ruler for rulering and I might have placed the poop in the compost.
Sometime in my marriage I was asked out by another man. He was very alluring and hung on my every word like people do when they want to charm your knickers off. I considered him for a moment and then I thought about my husband (other), our marriage (context), my integrity (self). And I didn’t flirt with danger for long.
Clumsy, mean and regretful behaviour almost always starts with careless thinking.
With respect and love,