We are the only species that cages alleged and actual transgressors – Incarceration is not the natural order of things

Oct 22, 2013 We are the only species that cages alleged and actual transgressors – Incarceration is not the natural order of things

Society is filled with centuries of people being rotten to each other, going right back to Cain and Abel. I grew up so obsessed about those who are rotten to and with each other — with Hitler and his henchmen at the top of that list — that I hardened my heart and lived a dualistic life from early on, making my life more miserable than I needed to. I closed off myself to so many peope as a default until I felt that I was not unsafe with them that I remember sneaking into a jai alai game at seventeen with my friend, and not responding whatsoever to the woman next to me who simply wanted to commiserate at how much the competitors did not seem to be making enough of an effort in their playing. How I would prefer to find this woman and apologize.

Even as I worked for human rights causes through such groups as Amnesty International in college, I was far from the warmest person, having a frontier attitude of sorts focusing on the struggle rather than on the human graces.

We are all connected. Life still includes plenty of people acting rotten. However, the more we show caring and compassion for everyone, we will have fewer people acting rotten, and they will act rotten less often.

Throwing people in cages for alleged and actual transgressions does not show them compassion nor how to be compassionate. Throwing them in cages just helps them to harden their hearts all the more than I did in my earlier days, as they fend for themselves doing their best not to be raped or otherwise assaulted or mistreated, even if that means risking getting penalized for possessing a shank (a homemade knife, which for instance can be made by whittling a piece of metal and attaching it to a toothbrush).

Although I do not classify myself as a Buddhist — in part because I have not fully renounced violence for self defense — I derive many beneficial lessons from Buddhism, including non-dualism. In that regard, I deeply thank David Loy, who has voiced in depth a Buddhist perspective how unnatural it is to cage people en masse for committing crimes.

So many of my criminal defense colleagues would feel at least at home prosecuting or judging. I, however, feel at home defending, not only from a lofty perspective of defending the Constitution and the cause of justice, but also from the following perspectives voiced by Publius and Thich Nhat Hanh: As Publius Terencesaid: Thich Nhat Hanh takes Publius Terrence a step further in his poem “Please Call Me by My True Names,” recognizing that but for his fortune in experience, resources, compassion and wisdom from an early age, he could have become the child raped by a pirate as well as the pirate who raped her, “my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.”

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