Red Rocks

Red Rocks

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Another Manic Thursday...

I worked in Jamestown today at the James River Correctional Center. This is part of my contract with the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. What this really means is I provide the primary eye care to all inmates at the ND State Penitentiary, Missouri River Correctional Center, James River Correctional Center, and Youth Correctional Center. The only State inmates I am not responsible for are the female inmates, who are housed at the Women's facility in New England, ND.

I have been doing this for about 15 years at NDSP, about 10 years at JRCC, and about 6-7 years for YCC and MRCC. Needless to say I have examined many of the state's notorious and famous criminals, but mostly what I see are the dumb guys (and kids) who let alcohol and drugs affect their decision-making ( or just as often, lack of decision-making). A vast majority of these people - fellow citizens, by the way - are not evil or cruel or even very unusual. They almost always, though, are unwilling or unable to think through the long term consequences of their actions, and show little, if any, regard for the welfare of not only their fellow citizens, but even their own.

As a former educator, I can see so many patterns being repeated. As a parent I see so many obvious signs of abuse and neglect. As a citizen and taxpayer I see so much waste: yes, money, but also talent and the human resources, including many of the inmates own talents.

What got me thinking about this was a discussion between NY Times columnist Bob Herbert and Rachel Maddow on her show tonight. What Mr. Herbert contends, and with which I agree completely, is that our society is in true denial about how violent a society we are, and we basically ignore every run of the mill shooting, stabbing, suicide, spouse murder, etc. and then pay a little lip service to the BIG ONES like Virginia Tech and Columbine and Tuscon and say "that was a freak thing, Thank God that doesn't happen every day, we're so lucky to live where we do." All of which allows us to neatly tie up the package of violence and say "It's not much of a problem."

Guess what? It is a huge, enormous everyday fact of life that a citizen of The US is more likely to be shot to death in this country than anyone anywhere else on Earth including such notorious bastions of liberty and lawlessness as Iraq and Afghanistan. Afghanis were statistically safer under Taliban rule than Americans are today in the United States of America. Where is the outrage? Where is the empathy for our fellow man? WHY do we not only condone but LOVE violence so much?

I know there is no neat answer, but our leaders and our fellow citizens are not even thinking about the questions, let alone the answers.

1 comment :

Sam said...

We have only been civil for maybe 100 years and I am certain we have not evolved much these past few centuries. The crimes of our wealth endanger the world.

The world has a way of forcing change if history has any relevance. I am not a glass half empty person but I am afraid the future is more of a challenge for our kids than it was for us.

But there is oil in the savannah and Walmart is full of prosperity so we may just make it out in time. Our kids can eat cake....

Hope all is well man...why aren't you on FB?