Most Holy One,
We are praying for the day on this planet to arrive when basic fundamental human rights, peace and justice are realized for all.
We pray for true compassion and the recognition
of the humanity and personal dignity
of each person on this planet.
Our prayer is for recognition, by the entire world, that no individual, family, tribe, cultural group, city, state, nation or cluster of nations has a right to make decisions that have effects
on the entire planet's population
or that imposes violence on others.
We pray that all people on Earth will have a permanent, sanitary, safe and dignified place to live, enough food and proper daily nutrition.
We pray that economic and social progress will be actively sought for and provided to each and every individual on this planet.
We pray that this progress will include the eradication of all violence, war-related and otherwise, national and international discord.
We are praying for the resolution of every conflict that effects the emotional, psychological or physical safety of anyone.
We are praying for the active promotion and provision of literacy and education so that it is freely available for every individual.
Our prayer is for the vast improvement of preventative care and the treatment of illness, including physical healthcare, psychological, psychiatric and spiritual care, family and peer issue resolution, anger management, stress reduction and treatment for substance abuse and other addictions with free access for everyone.
We pray that there will be completely equal, free and unhindered access to a full range of social services including vocational assistance and full cultural, political and religious participation by everyone,
if they so choose.
We pray for the decriminalization
of poverty, mental illness and homosexuality.
Our prayer is that the entire world will be free
from all forms of abuse and victimization,
every prejudice and segregation of all kinds.
We pray that when all this occurs,
prisons will not be necessary.
So be it now and forever more.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
American Bar Association Opposes the Adam Walsh Act
Here's a quote:
"Because the Adam Walsh Act is inconsistent with ABA juvenile justice policy and because we believe the statute is overbroad in this respect, we urge you to draft the regulations so as to not further broaden the reach of the act and to minimize the harm that will result from application of the statute. The clearest way to accomplish this is to reject retroactive application of the Act to those who were under 18 at the time of their offenses. To the extent possible, the regulations should also provide a reasonable method for low-risk offenders to petition to be removed from federal and state sex offender registries. Finally, the ABA also suggests that the Department of Justice urge Congress to reconsider whether the Act should apply to juvenile offenders."
Opening convicts' eyes to crime
Here's a quote:
"A recent state audit of the Texas prison program shows some encouraging results. Reincarceration rates were more than 60 percent lower for offenders who went through the program than for those who did not. Most returning to prison went back for technical violations, not new criminal charges.
Jeremy Serna, 33, who has served most of a 15-year sentence for rape of an adult woman, said nothing "caught my attention" until he got into the treatment program a few months ago.
'If you lock somebody up for 25 years, that puts a Band-Aid on the problem,' Mr. Serna said."
The Dallas Morning News carried another great article Sunday. Here's a link:
Here's a Quote:
"'We're focusing on stranger danger," she said of the crackdown, which includes 25-year minimum sentences and the death penalty for some child rapists. "That's not who's molesting the vast majority of our children.'
According to federal statistics, juvenile sexual assault victims know their perpetrator a staggering 93 percent of the time. Often, it's a family member. Frequently, it's another child. Rarely is it a stranger.
Texas' push to increase punishment for sex crimes was driven by top state officials wanting to send a "no tolerance" message. Although the laws are politically popular, most such crimes are never reported; those that are prosecuted often end in a plea bargain with a relatively light sentence, and about a third of sexual offenses are committed by juveniles not covered by the enhanced penalties.
Like most survivors, Ms. Harbaugh never told anyone what her father did. In nine years as a counselor, she's known just one client who prosecuted. It wasn't her."
Sunday, October 21, 2007
"Experts in the field of addictions are presently purporting that between 3 and 6 percent of the world s population (193 to 386 million people) are presently affected by a sexual dependency or compulsivity (Carnes, 2005). Sexual dependency is a diagnosable and treatable disease, which today is generally, regarded in about the same way that alcoholism and drug addiction (chemical dependency) was regarded 40 years ago. Even so, there still exists a wide range of understandable misunderstandings about compulsive sexual acting out, created out of ignorance about the nature of sexual addiction, and supported and perpetuated by the multibillion dollar pornography industry."
Friday, October 19, 2007
"The police have a long, sordid, deeply destructive history of targeting gay men, entrapping them, and blatantly lying about their own behaviors. From the earliest years of gay activism, continuing until now, enormous legal battles have been fought to protect gay men from police entrapment. For LGBT groups to take the Minneapolis police at their word is outrageous. The LCR even went so far as to defend the police: “[Craig] violated the trust of the people and now he’s questioning the honesty of law enforcement officers.” There is something radically wrong when a LGBT group—even a conservative one—takes the side of the police in an entrapment case.
These police entrapment and sting operations—usually presented as campaigns to make public space safer and increase quality of life—have always been integral to larger political agendas, often tied to the election of specific politicians or parties. By their very nature, these campaigns target disenfranchised cultural groups—most frequently prostitutes, gay men, teenagers of color, poor people of any color—and portray them as dangerous threats to “regular people.” It’s an easy way for police and politicians to score points.
The fallout from these actions can be tremendous. In 2002 a police sting of men who were meeting in the back room of an adult bookstore in Johnson, Rhode Island, resulted in 13 arrests. The names of the men, along with their addresses and places of work, were printed in the Providence Journal. Stuart Denton, one of the men and a politician in Plainfield, Connecticut, committed suicide.
As homosexuality’s stigma has decreased over the years so have the suicides of men caught in these stings, but they still occur. More common are men being fired from their jobs, losing their position in the community, and having their relationships and families destroyed. It is important to realize that these results are not the incidental, collateral damage of entrapment, they are the intended results of campaigns meant to intimidate and harm specific groups of people. As such they are intrinsically homophobic.
Richard Kim on his blog at the Nation website points out that the Minneapolis police have “since May of this year...made 41 arrests like Craig’s in an elaborate sting operation. Not to be outdone, the head of the Atlanta International Airport police boasted that they’ve arrested 45 men...including ‘a couple college professors’ and ‘the CEO of a bank’ in a similar sweep.” Doug Ireland, in New York’s Gay City News, notes that Michigan’s Triangle Foundation reported that police there had a “caseload of 770 arrests in four months.” For national gay and lesbian groups to fail to address the Craig arrest in the context of these shameful ongoing entrapment campaigns is political cowardice."
one of the few choices available for SOs in Florida. Keep in mind, these are people who have served their time and paid their debt to society for the crime they committed. Many are receiving treatment and being monitored via electronic ankle bracelets, yet the state government, caught up in the moral-panic driven frenzy sweeping the nation right now has made it nearly impossible for urban SOs to find a decent place to live, legally.
This trailer park is one of the first 'SO ghettos' that are bound to emerge as a result of these laws. One of our concerns is this... Will society actually benefit from forcing these individuals into segregated ghettos, finding shelter within close proximity of each other? Or will many of those rehabilitated and who would not re-offend, under normal circumstances, be influenced by others, living near them, that resist treatment and recovery? We feel these are important questions worth pondering.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
The Trivial Pursuit
Here's a quote:
"We’ve paid a heavy price. The president who got such high marks as a barbecue companion doesn’t seem to know up from down. He’s hurled the nation into a ruinous war that has cost countless lives and spawned a whole new generation of terrorists. He continues to sit idly by as a historic American city, New Orleans, remains wounded and on its knees. He’s blithely steered the nation into a bottomless pit of debt.
I could go on."
We received a link to this very informative site:
Facts about Megan's Law and SOs
It contains useful articles about the politics of SO and registry laws as well as SO scapegoating.
Here's a quote from the site:
"The myth is that all [SOs] are alike and that most re-offend. The facts are the opposite. Most former [SOs] want nothing more than to rebuild normal productive lives. If we prevent them from doing so, our communities will be less safe, not more so."
"Political parties are using [SOs] [as an easy, relatively cheap, effortless way that requires little investigation, action or work on their part] to demonstrate that they are tougher on law and order than the other state," said John La Fond, a retired law professor and author on [SO] treatment in Washington state.
"No one really wants to know the facts anymore."
A national hysteria about [SOs] has led to illogical public policy that has not been proven to make children safer, said
"There's an awful lot of legislators going for the feel-good, quick fixes to enhance their own careers and reputation," Sabin said. "We need to marry policy with science-based tools."
"Stop having lay people figure out goofy things that don't work, like green license plates, pink license plates, e-mail registries, chemical castration and residency restrictions."
"Instead of enacting public policy such as residency restrictions, more resources should be spent on preventing [SO] crimes in which the victim and perpetrator know each other, which make up the majority of such crimes," Sabin said. (The Arizona Republic, March 16, 2007)
Friday, October 12, 2007
While checking out the links on the previously mentioned Oprah.com article, we saw the following list of rules mentioned, transcribed by George Washington when he was 16 years old. We googled them and foud that they were posted on a different site. We thought they were both funny and profound and show us a courteous, thoughtful approach to interacting with others that has been long been discarded.
We think it's time to dig them out of the trash because they contain some really good advice!
Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation:
A Book of Etiquette*
(Original errors in numbering have been corrected; original spelling is unchanged.)
- · 1st Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.
- · 2d When in Company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, not usualy Discovered.
- · 3d Shew Nothing to your Freind that may affright him.
- · 4th In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet.
- · 5th If You Cough, Sneeze, Sigh, or Yawn, do it not Loud but Privately; and Speak not in your Yawning, but put Your handkercheif or Hand before your face and turn aside.
- · 6th Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.
- · 7th Put not off your Cloths in the presence of Others, nor go out your Chamber half Drest.
- · 8th At Play and at Fire its Good manners to Give Place to the last Commer, and affect not to Speak Louder than Ordinary.
- · 9th Spit not in the Fire, nor Stoop low before it neither Put your Hands into the Flames to warm them, nor Set your Feet upon the Fire especially if there be meat before it.
- · 10th When you Sit down, Keep your Feet firm and Even, without putting one on the other or Crossing them.
- · 11th Shift not yourself in the Sight of others nor Gnaw your nails.
- · 12th Shake not the head, Feet, or Legs rowl not the Eys lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak.
- · 13th Kill no Vermin as Fleas, lice ticks &c in the Sight of Others, if you See any filth or thick Spittle put your foot Dexteriously upon it if it be upon the Cloths of your Companions, Put it off privately, and if it be upon your own Cloths return Thanks to him who puts it off.
- · 14th Turn not your Back to others especially in Speaking, Jog not the Table or Desk on which Another reads or writes, lean not upon any one.
- · 15th Keep your Nails clean and Short, also your Hands and Teeth Clean yet without Shewing any great Concern for them.
- · 16th Do not Puff up the Cheeks, Loll not out the tongue rub the Hands, or beard, thrust out the lips, or bite them or keep the Lips too open or too Close.
- · 17th Be no Flatterer, neither Play with any that delights not to be Play'd Withal.
- · 18th Read no Letters, Books, or Papers in Company but when there is a Necessity for the doing of it you must ask leave: come not near the Books or Writings of Another so as to read them unless desired or give your opinion of them unask'd also look not nigh when another is writing a Letter.
- · 19th let your Countenance be pleasant but in Serious Matters Somewhat grave.
- · 20th The Gestures of the Body must be Suited to the discourse you are upon.
- · 21st: Reproach none for the Infirmaties of Nature, nor Delight to Put them that have in mind thereof.
- · 22d Shew not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.
- · 23d When you see a Crime punished, you may be inwardly Pleased; but always shew Pity to the Suffering Offender.
- · 24th Do not laugh too loud or too much at any Publick Spectacle.
- · 25th Superfluous Complements and all Affectation of Ceremonie are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected.
- · 26th In Pulling off your Hat to Persons of Distinction, as Noblemen, Justices, Churchmen &c make a Reverence, bowing more or less according to the Custom of the Better Bred, and Quality of the Person. Amongst your equals expect not always that they Should begin with you first, but to Pull off the Hat when there is no need is Affectation, in the Manner of Saluting and resaluting in words keep to the most usual Custom.
- · 27th Tis ill manners to bid one more eminent than yourself be covered as well as not to do it to whom it's due Likewise he that makes too much haste to Put on his hat does not well, yet he ought to Put it on at the first, or at most the Second time of being ask'd; now what is herein Spoken, of Qualification in behaviour in Saluting, ought also to be observed in taking of Place, and Sitting down for ceremonies without Bounds is troublesome.
- · 28th If any one come to Speak to you while you are are Sitting Stand up tho he be your Inferiour, and when you Present Seats let it be to every one according to his Degree.
- · 29th When you meet with one of Greater Quality than yourself, Stop, and retire especially if it be at a Door or any Straight place to give way for him to Pass.
- · 30th In walking the highest Place in most Countrys Seems to be on the right hand therefore Place yourself on the left of him whom you desire to Honour: but if three walk together the middest Place is the most Honourable the wall is usually given to the most worthy if two walk together.
- · 31st If any one far Surpassess others, either in age, Estate, or Merit yet would give Place to a meaner than himself in his own lodging or elsewhere the one ought not to except it, So he on the other part should not use much earnestness nor offer it above once or twice.
- · 32d: To one that is your equal, or not much inferior you are to give the cheif Place in your Lodging and he to who 'tis offered ought at the first to refuse it but at the Second to accept though not without acknowledging his own unworthiness.
- · 33d They that are in Dignity or in office have in all places Preceedency but whilst they are Young they ought to respect those that are their equals in Birth or other Qualitys, though they have no Publick charge.
- · 34th It is good Manners to prefer them to whom we Speak before ourselves especially if they be above us with whom in no Sort we ought to begin.
- · 35th Let your Discourse with Men of Business be Short and Comprehensive.
- · 36th Artificers & Persons of low Degree ought not to use many ceremonies to Lords, or Others of high Degree but Respect and highly Honour them, and those of high Degree ought to treat them with affibility & Courtesie, without Arrogancy.
- · 37th In Speaking to men of Quality do not lean nor Look them full in the Face, nor approach too near them at lest Keep a full Pace from them.
- · 38th In visiting the Sick, do not Presently play the Physicion if you be not Knowing therein.
- · 39th In writing or Speaking, give to every Person his due Title According to his Degree & the Custom of the Place.
- · 40th Strive not with your Superiers in argument, but always Submit your Judgment to others with Modesty.
- · 41st Undertake not to Teach your equal in the art himself Proffesses; it Savours of arrogancy.
- · 42d Let thy ceremonies in Courtesie be proper to the Dignity of his place with whom thou conversest for it is absurd to act the same with a Clown and a Prince.
- · 43d Do not express Joy before one sick or in pain for that contrary Passion will aggravate his Misery.
- · 44th When a man does all he can though it Succeeds not well blame not him that did it.
- · 45th Being to advise or reprehend any one, consider whether it ought to be in publick or in Private; presently, or at Some other time in what terms to do it & in reproving Shew no Sign of Cholar but do it with all Sweetness and Mildness.
- · 46th Take all Admonitions thankfully in what Time or Place Soever given but afterwards not being culpable take a Time & Place convenient to let him him know it that gave them.
- · 47th Mock not nor Jest at any thing of Importance break no Jest that are Sharp Biting and if you Deliver any thing witty and Pleasent abstain from Laughing there at yourself.
- · 48th Wherein wherein you reprove Another be unblameable yourself; for example is more prevalent than Precepts.
- · 49th Use no Reproachfull Language against any one neither Curse nor Revile.
- · 50th Be not hasty to beleive flying Reports to the Disparagement of any.
- · 51st Wear not your Cloths, foul, unript or Dusty but See they be Brush'd once every day at least and take heed that you approach not to any Uncleaness.
- · 52d In your Apparel be Modest and endeavour to accomodate Nature, rather than to procure Admiration keep to the Fashion of your equals Such as are Civil and orderly with respect to Times and Places.
- · 53d Run not in the Streets, neither go too slowly nor with Mouth open go not Shaking yr Arms kick not the earth with yr feet, go not upon the Toes, nor in a Dancing fashion.
- · 54th Play not the Peacock, looking every where about you, to See if you be well Deck't, if your Shoes fit well if your Stokings sit neatly, and Cloths handsomely.
- · 55th Eat not in the Streets, nor in the House, out of Season.
- · 56th Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for 'tis better to be alone than in bad Company.
- · 57th In walking up and Down in a House, only with One in Company if he be Greater than yourself, at the first give him the Right hand and Stop not till he does and be not the first that turns, and when you do turn let it be with your face towards him, if he be a Man of Great Quality, walk not with him Cheek by Joul but Somewhat behind him; but yet in Such a Manner that he may easily Speak to you.
- · 58th Let your Conversation be without Malice or Envy, for 'tis a Sign of a Tractable and Commendable Nature: And in all Causes of Passion admit Reason to Govern.
- · 59th Never express anything unbecoming, nor Act agst the Rules Moral before your inferiours.
- · 60th Be not immodest in urging your Freinds to Discover a Secret.
- · 61st Utter not base and frivilous things amongst grave and Learn'd Men nor very Difficult Questians or Subjects, among the Ignorant or things hard to be believed, Stuff not your Discourse with Sentences amongst your Betters nor Equals.
- · 62d Speak not of doleful Things in a Time of Mirth or at the Table; Speak not of Melancholy Things as Death and Wounds, and if others Mention them Change if you can the Discourse tell not your Dreams, but to your intimate Friend.
- · 63d A Man ought not to value himself of his Atchievements, or rare Qualities of wit; much less of his riches Virtue or Kindred.
- · 64th Break not a Jest where none take pleasure in mirth Laugh not aloud, nor at all without Occasion, deride no mans Misfortune, tho' there Seem to be Some cause.
- · 65th Speak not injurious Words neither in Jest nor Earnest Scoff at none although they give Occasion.
- · 66th Be not forward but friendly and Courteous; the first to Salute hear and answer & be not Pensive when it's a time to Converse.
- · 67th Detract not from others neither be excessive in Commanding.
- · 68th Go not thither, where you know not, whether you Shall be Welcome or not. Give not Advice without being Ask'd & when desired do it briefly.
- · 69th If two contend together take not the part of either unconstrained; and be not obstinate in your own Opinion, in Things indiferent be of the Major Side.
- · 70th Reprehend not the imperfections of others for that belongs to Parents Masters and Superiours.
- · 71st Gaze not on the marks or blemishes of Others and ask not how they came. What you may Speak in Secret to your Friend deliver not before others.
- · 72d Speak not in an unknown Tongue in Company but in your own Language and that as those of Quality do and not as the Vulgar; Sublime matters treat Seriously.
- · 73d Think before you Speak pronounce not imperfectly nor bring out your Words too hastily but orderly & distinctly.
- · 74th When Another Speaks be attentive your Self and disturb not the Audience if any hesitate in his Words help him not nor Prompt him without desired, Interrupt him not, nor Answer him till his Speech be ended.
- · 75th In the midst of Discourse ask not of what one treateth but if you Perceive any Stop because of your coming you may well intreat him gently to Proceed: If a Person of Quality comes in while your Conversing it's handsome to Repeat what was said before.
- · 76th While you are talking, Point not with your Finger at him of Whom you Discourse nor Approach too near him to whom you talk especially to his face.
- · 77th Treat with men at fit Times about Business & Whisper not in the Company of Others.
- · 78th Make no Comparisons and if any of the Company be Commended for any brave act of Vertue, commend not another for the Same.
- · 79th Be not apt to relate News if you know not the truth thereof. In Discoursing of things you Have heard Name not your Author always A Secret Discover not.
- · 80th Be not Tedious in Discourse or in reading unless you find the Company pleased therewith.
- · 81st Be not Curious to Know the Affairs of Others neither approach those that Speak in Private.
- · 82d undertake not what you cannot perform but be carefull to keep your promise.
- · 83d when you deliver a matter do it without passion & with discretion, however mean the person be you do it too.
- · 84th When your Superiours talk to any Body hearken not neither Speak nor Laugh.
- · 85th In Company of these of Higher Quality than yourself Speak not til you are ask'd a Question then Stand upright put of your Hat & Answer in few words.
- · 86th In Disputes, be not So Desireous to Overcome as not to give Liberty to each one to deliver his Opinion and Submit to the Judgment of the Major Part especially if they are Judges of the Dispute.
- · 87th Let thy carriage be such as becomes a Man Grave Settled and attentive to that which is spoken. Contradict not at every turn what others Say.
- · 88th Be not tedious in Discourse, make not many Digressigns, nor repeat often the Same manner of Discourse.
- · 89th Speak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust.
- · 90th Being Set at meat Scratch not neither Spit Cough or blow your Nose except there's a Necessity for it.
- · 91st Make no Shew of taking great Delight in your Victuals, Feed not with Greediness; cut your Bread with a Knife, lean not on the Table neither find fault with what you Eat.
- · 92d Take no Salt or cut Bread with your Knife Greasy.
- · 93d Entertaining any one at table it is decent to present him wt. meat, Undertake not to help others undesired by the Master.
- · 94th If you Soak bread in the Sauce let it be no more than what you put in your Mouth at a time and blow not your broth at Table but Stay till Cools of it Self.
- · 95th Put not your meat to your Mouth with your Knife in your hand neither Spit forth the Stones of any fruit Pye upon a Dish nor Cast anything under the table.
- · 96th It's unbecoming to Stoop much to ones Meat Keep your Fingers clean & when foul wipe them on a Corner of your Table Napkin.
- · 97th Put not another bit into your Mouth til the former be Swallowed let not your Morsels be too big for the Gowls.
- · 98th Drink not nor talk with your mouth full neither Gaze about you while you are a Drinking.
- · 99th Drink not too leisurely nor yet too hastily. Before and after Drinking wipe your Lips breath not then or Ever with too Great a Noise, for its uncivil.
- · 100th Cleanse not your teeth with the Table Cloth Napkin Fork or Knife but if Others do it let it be done wt. a Pick Tooth.
- · 101st Rince not your Mouth in the Presence of Others.
- · 102d It is out of use to call upon the Company often to Eat nor need you Drink to others every Time you Drink.
- · 103d In Company of your Betters be not longer in eating than they are lay not your Arm but only your hand upon the table.
- · 104th It belongs to the Chiefest in Company to unfold his Napkin and fall to Meat first, But he ought then to Begin in time & to Dispatch with Dexterity that the Slowest may have time allowed him.
- · 105th Be not Angry at Table whatever happens & if you have reason to be so, Shew it not but on a Chearfull Countenance especially if there be Strangers for Good Humour makes one Dish of Meat a Feast.
- · 106th Set not yourself at the upper of the Table but if it Be your Due or that the Master of the house will have it So, Contend not, least you Should Trouble the Company.
- · 107th If others talk at Table be attentive but talk not with Meat in your Mouth.
- · 108th When you Speak of God or his Atributes, let it be Seriously & wt. Reverence. Honour & Obey your Natural Parents altho they be Poor.
- · 109th Let your Recreations be Manfull not Sinfull.
- · 110th Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial fire Called Conscience.
*Washington, George. Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation: a Book of Etiquette.
We thought we'd share it here:
Squash self-doubt, find your confidence
Men, we know Oprah may not be your thing but we encourage you to stay with the article. It has some real wisdom. Swallow your pride and ignore the reference in the first few paragraphs to wearing your favorite little black dress and wobbling off your high heels. Unless of course, your idea of a good time is to go out wearing your favorite little black dress and wobbling off your high heels. :-)
We found this prayer in our documents this morning. We honestly can't remember where we got it from. We think it may have been a Divine Science related website. We may have revised it for our own use... Maybe not... If anyone reading knows the source, let us know and we'll cite it.
Our Creator Source, Divine Spirit that is Love within us
Revered and holy is Your name.
Your Kingdom of Love and Goodness
has come into expression through us,
and Your Will is carried out in and by us,
here upon earth as is done in Your Spiritual Realm.
It Is You, this day, that is the fulfillment of our every need
and the Illumination of our understanding.
You are helping us as we forgive and release our resentments
as we ourselves are set free by forgiveness.
You are teaching us of Your Presence of All-good
and leading us away from all error thinking,
all negation, delusion and vacillation.
You are preserving us, our Creator Source,
from every kind of separation.
For Yours is the Kingdom within us,
The Power and the Glory that fill us,
So be it now and Forever.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I just spent the last 3 ½ hours composing this email reply to a friend to whom I had revealed my upcoming prison stay and the reasons for it. I thought it had some pretty good content so I’m sharing an edited version here:
Man! What a beautiful cool day I've woken up to this morning! This week we've gone from above average highs in the 90s to below average lows last night in the 40s. Hopefully, fall has finally arrived here. I love it; it's my favorite time of the year. The cooler weather combined with autumn sunshine put me in a great mood the minute my feet hit the carpet. Then, I sat down at the computer and read your very kind and considerate email. Talk about jaw dropping... It's a great morning!!!
My friend, you are so right, right, right... It is time to for me to stop lamenting the past. I do believe that I move closer each day to healing the wounds of all my lamentations. As clichéd as this sounds, this whole experience has been a wake-up call for me and a chance to wipe the slate clean.
Of course, if it had been up to me, I would have chosen a much gentler alarm. It's really pretty funny in retrospect. The weekend prior to the morning when the FBI showed up at my door, I had attended a religious conference. The conference was an extremely moving experience, associating and worshiping with a diverse group of folks that had, for the most part, evolved from the same stunted Southern Baptist background as me.
At the closing worship service, I made a decision to pursue something that I felt I was being led toward. I decided right then that when I got back home I would get a college loan and finish my Bachelors degree and then attend seminary and become a minister. Making that decision at that worship service was one of the highest of highs that I have ever felt in my life. I went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows within 24 hours. The FBI showed up at 7:30 AM before I went to work.
I truly feel now that it was divine intervention. I think Divinity was telling me in no uncertain terms, "No, that's not the right decision. You're still trying to please other people. You're still trying to convince everyone what a nice guy you are. You need to look at yourself and find congruency and authenticity in your life first. You're keeping too many secrets." I know Divinity was right.
You ask, "So now what?" I've spent the last year and a half asking the same question. I'd still like to finish my Bachelors for me. Ohio University has a program for inmates that offers reduced inclusive cost correspondence classes and a degree in Specialized Studies through their University College program. The Specialized Studies degree requires a combination of two areas such as English and Psychology or History and Sociology. I've got about a 100 hours credit already including most or all of the core requirements, if they transfer. The challenge is the cost, even at a reduced rate. No federal loans or financial assistance for felons. I'm doing my best to keep faith that if it is meant to be, Divinity will provide a way.
My biggest cause of anxiety right now is fear. I'm afraid for my own safety because I've heard about gang activity at the prison where I'm headed. I'm afraid for my health, both physical and mental, because I've been told that I'll probably be taken off most of my medications. I'm afraid because I've been advised to lie to other inmates about the reason for my incarceration and I'm the worst liar in the universe. I'm afraid that my folks will die while I'm in prison. All these thoughts have led to frequent panic attacks. At times I'm a real mess. Other times, I'm completely centered and calm. My counselor says she'd be worried if I wasn't having panic attacks. So go figure? My counselor also says that FEAR is an acronym standing for False Evidence Appearing Real. Even though it's corny, that little acronym is helping me a lot right now along with the Serenity Prayer. My housemate found a nice downloadable poster with the Serenity Prayer on it by visiting this link (scroll down to prayer resources): Serenity Prayer.
You ask, "How do you see the next 4 1/2 years? Do you see if as punishment?" No, I refuse to see it as punishment. In an emotionally paradoxical way, even though I see what happened as a Divine intervention, I'm also angry enough at the injustice system and the hypocrisies of present day society to be determined not to let them get the best of me.
My intention is to approach my stay in Forrest City as sort of a monastic contemplative retreat using the imposed discipline for personal growth, a time to review my life, meditate, grow closer to the Most Holy One, exercise, eat as healthily as possible, lose weight, improve myself and make decisions for the future.
On to A Course in Miracles ... Life is hilarious, so full of irony. If someone had told me twenty or so years ago that you would be recommending that I read A Course in Miracles in 2007, I have to tell you that I would have laughed them out of the room. You see, the Course is an old friend of mine as well. It winds in and out of my life and has done so for at least the last 20 years.
Hold on... I'm digging out my copy (I actually have two, one with notes written in it)...
My favorite workbook lesson is "I am never upset for the reason I think." That thought still pops up in my mind whenever I feel anger.
Note to self--- review anger at the injustice system and hypocritical society.
A good friend who is now in her mid-eighties introduced me to the Course in 1985. She was actually a friend of Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford, the scribes of the Course. I met her at Unity Church, where I was a member for a couple of years. She also introduced me to Ernest Holmes' The Science of Mind, which you may be familiar with. I still receive their magazine. Maybe Divinity is speaking to me again through your recommendation of the Course? Perhaps it's telling me to revisit my 'old friend' and actually start using heart-wise what I've known of intellectually for a very long time?
Speaking of knowing of things, I thought I'd share a couple that you might like. I take it you're running with New Age type folk (something I've done a lot of over the years as well) and you might know about these books and authors already. If you do... well, that's more we have in common to talk about.
Here goes... If you resonate with the Course, you might like this book, Living in Grace: The Shift to Spiritual Perception. This book and the CD course the author does is another old friend of mine. It's by a former Christian Science practitioner named Beca Lewis. If you're not aware of it, there are a lot of similarities between the core teachings of Christian Science and the Course.
Here's a link to her website:
Also you might like Byron Katie's book, Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life. She invented (or was inspired to reveal) a process that helps a person do self-inquiry that helps one really get to and resolve the core issues in his or her life.
Here's a link to her website:
Wow... this is a long email. I suppose I've spent enough of my and your time on it. More later. Thanks for responding so positively. It means more to me than I could ever express here. I'm not sure why validation from you is still so important to me, but it is.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
It was extremely interesting to see that prisons are a microcosm of outer society. Inmates tend to segregate themselves along racial lines delineating black areas, white areas and Latino areas within which each race observes invisible boundaries that are rarely crossed. Prisons are a "mini" city where neighborhoods are created and racism perpetuated. In California, the penal system encourages this racism and segregation. They feel if the races keep themselves separate, a confrontation is less likely to occur that could lead to riot. Federal law has now mandated that the California system must desegregate starting in January of 2008. Time will tell if it is successful.
It was shown that a desegregated population already exists within the prison from which Koppel reported. The psychiatric dormitory where inmates with mental health issues and depression were housed seemed to be the most peaceful stress-free housing unit in the prison. The inmates there receive counseling and pharmaceutical treatment and seemed to be happier and getting along.
I think there's a message here. Realistically, what inmate does not have mental health issues, depression or at the very least, anger management issues? There is always an underlying reason why people act out and break the law. In order to find a cure for violence and crime, society must dig deeper for the reasons and start behaving pro-actively and compassionately, caring for people and meeting needs before these individuals reach their 'Breaking Point.' It is obvious that simply warehousing offenders is not the answer.
I felt very sympathetic for one man as Koppel followed him from prison to his situation after release. He had become an addict as a teenager and had repeatedly been in and out of prison. It was obvious that in prison he knew the system and while there he was strong and confident (and drug and alcohol free). Upon release, however, he became nervous, unsure of himself, stressed out and drawn back to his addictions. In prison he receives very little job training or rehabilitation. Each time he is released, he is under pressure from parole officers to get a job and become responsible. It was obvious that access to vital resources to change his situation are blocked from him.
Friday, October 5, 2007
I encourage everyone to see this documentary on the failure of the prison system. It will air Sunday night at 8 PM Central time. Ted Koppel, one of the last remaining "real" reporters in TV journalism exposes the facts about life on the inside.