The reasons adults go missing are as vast as the ocean; foul play, homicide, abduction, and in some cases an adult walks away, abandoning their family, children and friends. But, what happens when a missing adult is found alive and what questions are they, or their family, obligated to answer, and to whom?
There is no law that says an adult can’t walk away from their family, their job, or everything they once held dear, and create another life somewhere else. Is it the right thing to do? It depends on who you ask. While a family is devastated when someone walks out with no warning, no goodbye note, no clues as to what happened, an adult still has a legal right to do so. Morally and ethically, it may not be the best choice, but, there again, no laws have been broken.
Several cases have made national headlines; we all remember the “runaway bride,” Michelle McMullen and others, and recently a case of a 19 year old college student, Aisha Kahn, whose family reached out for help and received media attention, the aid of missing persons advocates and organizations, and the hard work of local law enforcement. Found alive and well, she’s got a lot to answer for, but to whom? Me? You? The media? The public?
The “ugly” rears its head all over the social network sites clamoring for justice, screaming for answers, and the “professional pundits” fuel these debates, the “yeas” and the high fives surrounding some of their opinions and comments, at the least, tasteless, and at the worst, shades of lynch mob mentality. Looking for appropriate answers is one thing, but wanting to dole out punishment is another, that's up to the law enforcement agency in charge.
So what exactly is our society’s fascination with passing judgment? Many are demanding answers, repeating that the attention and resources given to finding these adults takes away from the “truly” missing. What a stupid statement. What if it was YOUR missing adult, would you expect less, or would you expect every resource known on earth to be expended for your loved one? And, if that husband, wife, sister or brother suddenly reappears, for whatever reason, would you feel your “taxpayer” dollars were spent unwisely?
Prayers are never wasted. At a time when a loved one goes missing, sometimes that’s the only thing families can rely on. To see those of all faiths come together to pray for a safe return is a display of unity of mankind that doesn’t happen very often. The boundaries are erased and people embrace for a common cause, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.
It’s after a missing adult suddenly reappears that all the unity is forgotten in an instant, and if the media gets hold of the story, the pundits start shouting about the wrongs that have been done, and what they think should happen to this person. If the adult hasn’t broken any laws, there’s nothing to shout about, and if they have, then it's up to the local legal community to investigate and bring charges, not America's media commentators. If there is information that needs to be made public, they should have all the facts to back up what's put out there before the cameras start rolling, or fingers start twittering!
The return of a missing adult becomes an accountability issue to their left behind family, law enforcement, and those whose resources were used to find them, not me, and not you, they owe us nothing.
How we can be critical when the prayer to find a missing person alive and well is answered? Do they realize the alternative?
The circumstances surrounding an adult who goes missing may not be what we would like or expect, but, until there are laws in place prohibiting adults from walking away from their families, it's none of our business.
Celebrate a life spared and pray that whatever happened to precipitate any adult who feels they need to walk away from their life is rectified fairly through their family or through the legal system, not through public comments.
And, yes, this is my opinion and I welcome yours!