New York Times, May 28, 2000
1. ELEVEN days ago, when prosecutors in Birmingham, Alabama, charged two former Ku Klux Klansmen with the deadly 1963 bombing of a black church, there was a lot of talk about closure. "There needs to be some kind of closure, one way or another," said Doug Jones, the young United States attorney who has overseen the reinvestigation of the bombing that killed four girls.
2. The Reverend John H. Cross, who was the pastor at 16th Street Baptist Church when the dynamite detonated 37 years ago, said he felt elated about the indictments". Perhaps this will bring closure," he said.
3. But what is closure, really? Is it a psychological phenomenon or a political one or some melding of the two? Has the word become so overused that it is all but meaningless? Can a judicial resolution lessen the agony of the victims and families, or does it serve only to revive pain that had long ago subsided?
4. These questions are complicated, say psychiatrists, clergy and those who have experienced grievous losses themselves. And science has yet to reach many conclusions in what is a relatively young field.
5. The search for closure has become a driving force in politics, law and culture all across the world. In South Africa, former President Nelson Mandela's government made the remarkable choice of placing healing above vengeance — and some say justice — by granting amnesty to thousands of apparatchiks of the apartheid regime who agreed to testify before the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Chile's courts, encouraged by the newly installed Socialist government, are pushing ahead with the prosecution of the 84-year-old former dictator Gen. Augusto Pinoche on charges he was involved in the kidnapping, murder and torture of thousands of his countrymen.
6. In Neshoba County, Mississippi, officials are delving again into the murders of three civil rights workers in 1964. Across the South, authorities have reopened a number of decades-old cases that were never adequately investigated because white police officers, prosecutors, witnesses and jurors sympathized more with white suspects than with black victims. The May 17 indictments of Thomas E. Blanton Jr. and Bobby Frank Cherry in the Birmingham bombing were the latest examples. Only one of the four men identified as suspects, Robert Chambliss, was ever tried and that was 14 years later; he died in prison in 1985.
7. At its most elemental, closure is a byproduct of justice, truth and discovery, psychiatrists and experts say. Finality does not necessarily alleviate the anguish associated with unjustifiable loss. But it does, in certain cases, help victims and relatives move on. And it often restores faith in people, in government and even in G-d when a previously unjust system acknowledges past failings and tries to correct them, however belatedly.
8. But people respond in different ways, and some traumas defy closure, researchers caution. "For some people, this may be very painful and wake up memories and concerns that they put aside many years ago," said Dr. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan who studies how people react to trauma.
9. Dr. Steven M. Southwick, a Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine, said it was important to distinguish between seeking justice and seeking revenge. ''While seeking justice seems to help many individuals," he said, "it is commonly felt that seeking revenge tends to further immerse the individual in the pain of traumatic loss, making it difficult to move on in life." Dr. Southwick added, "One may never fully put to rest the traumatic loss of a loved one.”
10. For many of those who have been through the experience, however, there is little question about the cathartic benefits.
11. Myrlie Evers-Williams was home the night her husband, the N.A.A.C P. (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) field secretary Medgar Evers, was shot in the back in their driveway in Jackson, Miss., in 1963. She sat through two trials in 1964 as all-white juries deadlocked over the complicity of Byron de la Beckwith. Ms. Evers-Williams, who later presided over the national N.A.A.C.P., pressed for justice for 30 years. When a jury finally found Mr. de la Beckwith guilty in 1994, she felt an almost physiological reaction.
12. "I recall this feeling of release that was very spiritual," she said, "and it was as though all of the demons in my body exited through every pore of my being. It was as though I could almost see it rushing out. For the first time in all those years, I became free, my children became free and I felt that Mississippi became freer, as did all of America. That was the point of closure."
13. Ellie J. Dahmer waited 32 years to see Sam H. Bowers, a former Klansman, convicted of the firebombing that killed her husband, Vernon, a local N.A.A.C.P. leader. "It certainly gives you a feeling that at least your country cares about you," she said. "We felt so often that we had been so badly mistreated because we were black."
14. As both Ms. Evers-Williams and Ms. Dahmer suggest, closure can be as important for a place — in their case the South — as for survivors. Successful prosecutions of long-ago crimes are often viewed as political statements, as poignant assertions that times have changed. In that sense, closure can be as liberating for future generations as for those who suffered the pain, said Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors cases of racial violence.
15. "If people have problems in a family and sweep them under the rug and don't deal with them openly and honestly," he said, "they're just going to fester."
QUESTIONS 1. The example in paragraphs 1 and 2 introduce the concept of ________________. (ONE word)
2. According to paragraph 3, “closure” could be considered a judicial resolution to an unresolved problem. What are two possible reactions to such closure?
5. According to paragraph 7, what are the two possible positive effects of closure?
6. Dr. Nolen-Hoeksema is a _______________ expert, who has researched the positive/negative aspects of _________________.
7. According to Dr. Steven M. Southwick, while ___________________________ leads to the increase in ___________________________, seeking justice alleviates the pain and makes it ____________________ to move on in life.
8. The relationship between paragraphs 9 and 10 is
a. main idea and example
d. cause and effect
9. References to the wife of Medgar Evers and Mrs. Dahmer were made in order
to illustrate these people’s previous mistreatment by the American courts
to illustrate the positivity in closure
to illustrate the violence in the American South in the 1960’s
4. Across the South, authorities have reopened number of decade-old cases….
(para. 6) _________________________
5. …. closure is a byproduct of justice, truth and discovery… (para. 7)
Finality does not necessarily alleviate the anguish associated with unjustifiable loss. (para. 7) ____________________
We felt so often that we were so badly mistreated because we were black.
(para. 13) ________________________
Words with more than one meaning: The words in bold have different meanings in different contexts. Translate these words as they are used here. 1. …. Two former Ku Klux Klansmen… (para. 1) _______________________
2. The search for closure has become a driving force in politics, law and culture…