TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THE ULTIMATE IMPASSE

Hello Friends, It’s been awhile, which if I was a Canadian I might spend the next half-hour apologizing for, but while I was born and still live in Canada, I am a Child of the Universe, and for so-being I will not apologize for putting certain other activities ahead of this blog.

Also, I am going to start at the end of a conversation that took place today between myself, a spiritual atheist, and my friend named Peter who is a confirmed Deist. To make things even weirder, Peter is my mechanic, and I am his supplier of almost-free-of-THC medical marijuana. Sometimes when we meet to do business, we get into discussions between his religion and my philosophy.

Weirdest of all is that I am finding it necessary to start this blog, my first in what seems like months, with Peter’s and mine final sentences before saying “Good-bye,” for the afternoon. He, the deist, said to me, “Knowing that life exists proves to me [Peter] that God exists.” I on the other hand, restate my final declaration: “Knowing that Life exists allows me the freedom to think for myself, which tells me that no living being exists that can call itself God, or that we can call god.”

We are at that ultimate impasse where the person who was brought up to believe in a god-creator cannot see life without a god-creator. Meanwhile, though I was brought up to believe there was a god, creator or not, I learned to reject everything that was taught to me as a belief, and go with what I find within myself. There is no room for a god within me. There is only room for life. And life is eternal… And life is forever changing… Peter’s god is never-changing….

And yet we are so close together in thought it almost scares me. But he cannot make the leap from being a mostly-free-thinker to being a totally free thinker, whereas being a totally free thinker gives me the power to believe only that which I can find inside me, inside my mind, inside my spirit. This is like being in that proverbial place between a rock and a hard place–for both of us. Yet I cannot go back to believing in a god, nor do I want to, while he, Peter, cannot take that final step that makes him completely free.

The question, therefore, becomes does one of us need to change in order to co-exist, or is it sufficiently acceptable for both of us to accept the other as he is and allow life to go on, each of us in our own way. My gut tells me I can go on, because that is part of who I am. Accept everyone for who they are at this time, knowing they cannot escape the inescapable, when the time is right to move on, Peter will make that final step to totally free thinking and realize god cannot exist, and I for my turn will continue to search for what comes after accepting atheism as reality. This, I believe, is what upsets me so much about people who declare themselves atheists yet spend all their time still denying the existence of god. I see them as stuck, unable to move on, even when that too must change when it is time to make the change. I think I must be angry at myself, frustrated with myself for not being able to envision what comes next. Becoming atheist cannot be the be-all and end-all of life. Humanity is too inquisitive to allow that to be the ultimate goal. It contradicts my third condition of life, that need to keep on evolving. There was once a time I was satisfied having freed myself from the control of others, from taking complete responsibility for who and what I am and do. I am no longer satisfied with that position. I needed a rest after getting there, but now it is time to move again. But where?

But where?

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rawgod versus the God of Atheism?

The possibilities are endless.

Life is endless.

And I am endless.

A couple months ago I found a website serving the  God of Atheism, Clinton Richard Dawkins. I had tried to reach him before, but I guess I was beneath his notice. This site was about “Militant Atheism,” so figuring that title suited me as well as anyone else, I purposely called him an anti-theist rather than an atheist, because, in my opinion, that is what he is. I believe I have the right to tell someone when I think their anti-theism is hurting the atheistic cause. Continually arguing with, debating, and shaming others is not something to be proud of or praised, but rather something to be condemned for.  So I condemned him for his stance, insinuating that there is no such thing as an atheist movement which was what he seemed to be saying. For him to assume that atheism by its very nature is an organized group of living beings trying to convince the world we live on, the world we live in, that atheism is the only way to go is to assume, as I said above, the godship of the idea of atheism. I am not writing this protest for reading by non-atheists (well, maybe for agnostics who are leaning towards atheism), I am writing to grab the attention of people who are already atheists, or believe themselves to be atheists, to get CRD (not Charles Robert Darwin) to talk to me. He probably does not agree with me that atheism can be a spiritual journey through life. But I know it can be, and I know that it is exactly how I have described it. At least, it is for me, even if for not for anyone else. But since this group of comments was for Militant Atheists, I felt it is my right to FIGHT against anti-theists, and try to make them understand that the chaos of this universe, while it is not controlled, CAN BE CONTROLLED, if one has the desire to do it. And such is my desire.

(The above paragraph is a paraphrase of the first comment I wrote to CRD earlier tonight. The following paragraphs will be unedited (except for typos) of what I wrote tonight, attacking him with everything I could think to use, and still keep my words intelligible. If anyone who reads the following words happens to know the self-appointed God of Atheism, please pass on my message to him. I don’t know him at all except through his written and spoken words, and I might be totally off base on who he is inside his mind, but without meeting the man, I have to go with the image I see of him in public. And in public, he comes across as an intelligent, possibly even a genius of a man. But one with a chip on his shoulder that needs to be excised. And if anyone can do that, I believe I am the surgeon who can succeed. I am a virtual unknown in the world of atheism,  but that doesn’t mean I am weak, or unintelligent, if not a genius myself. And I am not out to argue with him, debate him, or shame him. I just want to show him he can be a much more important person than he already is, if only he would listen to someone besides his ego.)

So, if I do not think atheists should be wasting their time on trying to change closed minds and closed ears, what is it I think they should be doing? The critical words in that sentence being “what is it I think they should be doing.” I think they should be working to improve the state humanity and all other living beings presently find themselves in. So let me define what I mean by “improve.” I’ll start by saying what I know it is not, which is anything to do with god, gold, or government. More people have died on this world because of religious differences. More people have been hurt and caused to live lives of suffering by those who own the most money. And more hatred has been caused by living under different governing systems, which includes words like culture, society, nationality, race, location, and whatever you can think of in that vein. But I have not yet added that system of government that is found all over our world, is worshiped by just about every mother and father, and yet ruins more lives than every other cause mentioned above added all together. That system of government is the nuclear family.
This is not to say that every parent is a bad parent, though 99% of parents screw up their children in some way or other, and not in just one way, but in so many ways it would take a million books to describe them all, and even then some would still be missed. The only people I might leave out of this list are those that have already learned it is best to share parenting as a group, not as individual families, and those would be aboriginal peoples still using the methods they used before the European Empire-builders tore their ways of life apart, believing aboriginal peoples were savages, meanwhile showing themselves to be the most savage group of people that ever lived, and who still live their savage lifestyles to this day.

These are what we must overcome if ever the people of earth are to become worthy of calling themselves human. I don’t have the room here to show how all these problems can be fixed, but I certainly have the room to declare that alienating others is NOT the way to succeed at anything. To succeed at making our planet the home of the mentally and physically healthiest beings in our universe, it will take cooperation, belief in the capabilities of humanity to create positive change, and the will and willingness to get it done.
And one of the first steps is to deconstruct the nuclear family and replace it with communal homes run by psychologically safe and loving people hired as community parents, and that would be their full-time profession. Once these community homes have been established, the next step would be to grow children into responsibly anarchistic adults. Responsible anarchy is the state of being wherein all people take responsibility for their every action, which in turn means that they would take responsibility to help all those around them to become responsible for themselves too. Remember, we are all members of one species, even though we seldom ever accept responsibility for ourselves, let alone responsibility for those around us. We would rather violate those around us in ways that show no respect for the fact we are all related. But this change is not only possible, it is probable. That is because, even as we are all physically related, we are also all spiritually related. While evolution accounts for for growth from single-celled beings to beings made up of somewhere between 30 to 37 trillion cells, spiritual evolution has helped raise us from never-concious instinct-driven beings to always-concious intelligence-driven beings capable of all types of genius.

But, a a member of the group of living beings extant upon our planet, individual lives can have other purposes. The life of my spirit, which has gone through millions of incarnations, shows my purpose is to be the best person I can be. And while I have not reached that point yet, I am working on it. Thanks to being born human, I can still see where improvements can be made. Thanks to having been born in Canada, I have been able to see what still needs to be improved. And thanks to having been born in a nuclear family, I can see its flaws. This is why I can say what my purpose is.

What next if ever I accomplish this task? I don’t know, and I don’t care. I know it won’t be heaven, hell, nirvana, paradise, Mt Olympus, Bifrost, or any other human-imagined place of reward. I expect it will be a place where the fight to survive and progress will be even harder than in our present universe. The chaos will be even more chaotic. But life as we do not know it will still be there, in some form or formlessness, shapeless or shapeshifting, monocellular, multicellular, or non-cellular.

The possibilities are endless.

Life is endless.

And I am endless.

Please, ia anyone out there?

Rethinking Reincarnation Again

A brief History of Reincarnation, and Me

Here I am again, this time not writing off the top of my head, but writing from inside of my head, still not knowing for sure what I will say, but tonight I have a direction to go in. I wish I knew how to put background music onto a blog, because there are two or three songs I would love for you to listen to while reading this particular blog page. I would start with Neil Diamond singing Skybird, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyBkeUmUkfI) and follow it up with Eric Burdon and the Animals singing “New York 1963 – America 1968 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PVcC9KQB3Y), ending with Eric Burdon and War doing Visions of Rassan (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ3tkwInb_g). These songs tell the story of a search for something humanity has yearned for from the time we realized we were intelligent, because we knew naught from whence that intelligence came.

It is my belief that intelligence came from reincarnation. And the knowledge of reincarnation came from the Indian subcontinent. While most people alive at the time were spending their days hunting for food, clothing, and other needs for survival, there was a group or groups of people who had enough sustenance to allow them time to think with their minds about why they even had minds. They exchanged their ideas with their fellow thinkers and other fellow thinkers, until they came together as a group and declared intelligence came from being born to this world time after time after time. And how were they able to do this? Because they were still close enough to their own incarnations to remember some bits of where they had come from.

And from this one declaration came great philosophies of thought, and great religions that celebrated their discoveries. But as these great thinkers died and passed on their thoughts and words were twisted and turned around on themselves until the common castes forgot the purposes of reincarnation. And made of them a joke they used to defraud those who were luckier or richer than themselves. Only in the monasteries was the wisdom of the great thinkers preserved. But they too over time lost sight of the whole, and became but pieces of it. Each monastery specialized in the thoughts and wisdom of a single thinker, until there were many forms and sects of first the Hindu religion, and later the Buddhist philosophies as re-revealed by the Buddha to the people and monks of the various sects in a vain attempt to rebuild the whole from all the pieces of its parts. But not even the Buddha could do that, because he did not know where all the monasteries were located, so he could only reunite those of which he was aware. Of that he did an incredible piece of work, showing all the people what he thought it would look like were all the various sects rejoined in one big all-knowing group. His mistake, as was, and still is today, the mistake all great teachers have suffered from every era of intelligent life, They gave their wisdom away to people who could not understand it, and it did not take many generations to obscure the teacher’s wise words into that which he did not say. And that which the Buddha rebuilt from the ashes of the Great Thinkers tumbled down once more until as had happened to the great thinkers of the past, even as it would happen to those teachers who came after them, they died.

The funny thing about life on this world is that everything must always change. And this is especially true for humans from any and all generations. Change happens, and that which was truth become fiction, and fiction will become fact, and fact will become truth until it too is supplanted by a newer, more seemingly eternal Truth. But there is no such thing as eternal Truth, because, as I said earlier, everything always changes. Further, one can control his or her ideas, thoughts and wisdom from the grave. Once dead, always dead. No?

No. The wisdom might be gone from “samsara,” the physical world, as far as the death-on-Earth of the thinker in question, but it is not gone from the universe.

Where, then, is it gone to? In my opinion/belief system, It is gone to a wisdom bank of sorts, a place I originally thought was the universe in total, but on a different plane of existence, the plane of the Spirit of Origin. But as of this moment, since I cannot tell if it is ego or spirit that is doing the thinking, my gut feeling is that there are a great number of wisdom banks which have a certain number of spirits attached to them, but that number depends on how many spirits are on Earth or elsewhere in the universe at any given time. And the reason I think this is because I feel like I have been connected to my wisdom bank for hundreds or thousands of millennia…

( I actually think these banks were not for collecting wisdom at the start of life in our universe, because there was no such thing as wisdom in the early stages of life from the single cell onward until life reached the macro-multicellular stage where life began to think, rather than allowing instinct to be the only guide that a being could follow. It is at that time when life realized there were three raison d’être for life, which had ezisted since the dawn of physical life: live as long as you can, procreate as much as you can, and progress in some fashion as far as you can. These were not rules or directives or anything like that. How they even developed I cannot imagine, but somehow they did, And they drove life to continue, to multiply, and especially to develop better and better ways of improving something or someone or somehow between the physical doors of birth and death. I know, for myself, it was the banks that saved the improvements through the process of spiritual reincarnation.)

…And it is the number of incarnations connected to my wisdom bank that leads people to sense something in me that makes them feel and say the things they do.

In Buddhism it is said the physical body is connected to an Overself by a silver cord, which is basically the equivalent of my wisdom bank. Twice in my life I have had Near-Life Experiences, as opposed to near-death experiences. Both times my consciousness, be it my spirit or my mind or some other piece of the me that excludes my ego, travelled up a long shining tunnel that could be described as silverish. The destination I arrived at was incredibly beautiful, not only in sight, but also in sound, Each time I write about these experiences, I pull out my memory of that beauty, and it never fails to amaze me in its connecting electrified coloured lines of light, bobbing and weaving over, under and around each other, all musical notes corresponding with different colours, chords being represented by different weaves of colours, the music sounding closest to classical, and a definite feeling of home, but like on the veranda with an open door in front of me.

The first time I was there, a voice sounded in my head, speaking a language I did not understand, but still instantly translated into English for me, an instant echo booming in my head. “You are here before your time! You must choose to stay or go back.” I made an instant decision, basing that decision on two things: first, I did not want to leave my body a vegetable. Now I knew how so many others were turned into vegetables, still alive but no one home to direct what the body did or said; second, I had always thought I was born to do something important, and now I knew what it was. I would be my responsibility to tell the world about this experience. I was so close to entering the door, but then I was flying back through the silver tunnel at twenty times the speed I had travelled to get there. And I did get back, just like in the movies, with no time to spare. I looked ahead and imagined seeing bricklayers closing up the hole into my head where the silver tunnel emptied into the brain. I dived through just as the last brick was about to be placed, and I felt my spirit filling up my squishy flesh again. I opened my eyes, looked at the clock, and over two hours had passed since I last saw that clock. In my mind, it was barely seconds.

I soon fell asleep, which I had never done while high on acid ever, but I didn’t seem to suffer for that. But I did wake up exhausted the next day, wondering, but knowing that it was all true. One thing for sure, I didn’t feel anything like the same person who had woke up yesterday morning in this very bed.

How was I different that day. It’s not easy to remember almost 50 years later, but I can still close my eyes and see those beautiful lights, but I cannot hear the music that controlled them. To the best of my knowledge, Youtube.com has nothing like them, because I’m not sure the experience can be reproduced by even the most sophisticated computer imaginable, because it would take the mind of a software genius who has been “there” to even know where to start. And while I have been there, I am not a software genius. And if a software genius did go there, and return to tell the tale, it would only be written in the spaces between the seconds of measured time because in the seconds between spaces there would be no interest in repeating what had already been experienced.

 

Rethinking Reincarnation

Memoirs of a Hippie

I am writing this off the top of my head, so even I don’t know where it will take me. For years I have believed that reincarnation works as I described it in an earlier blog called “Experimenting with Reincarnation.” I never doubted that I was wrong, or even could be wrong. The Buddhists talk about releasing themselves from the world of “samsara,” meaning the physical world in which our bodies live and act between birth and death. They also talk about freeing themselves from “ego,” which I think is the same thing, only using the living language of English as opposed to the almost dead language of “Sanskrit.” Latin is to us and our ancestors mainly a language of science and religion, so that while it is dead it is still being used today in very strict ways, but no one speaks it as an everyday language. In the Middle East, throughout the Indian subcontinent, and encroaching into the Far East, meaning Afghanistan, Tajikistan, India, Tibet, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, and possibly even Sri Lanka, Sanskrit was the language of trade and economy of many peoples, thus affecting many Indo-European languages to the point it’s descendant languages were spoken by more people than those who spoke Latin-based languages, the languages that grew out of ancient Rome. And equally as Latin is still the language of science and religion, Sanskrit is still the language of scienceand religion in that area, but is also the language of philosophy, and even some of the spoken or written arts in subcontinental India and surrounding nations. Unlike Latin, however, Sanskrit is slowly being revived in certain areas, I would suggest possibly because Sanskrit is a more precise language, whereas, like English and other languages, words are becoming confusing, having more than one meaning through common usage.

So much for the history lesson, I just wish I could write in Sanskrit so I could be more precise in why I might be changing my mind about how reincarnation really works. Certainly, beyond death, there is or are (a) bank(s) or (a) reservoir(s) of collected wisdom that incarnating spirits bring to the physical world inside them. This wisdom doesn’t show up right away, of course, but as a child grows into a teen their personalities generally change to some extent, a change that becomes more and more apparent as the teen become a young adult, and beyond until we end up with people who all started out the same way at birth (knowing nothing) becoming older adults with such different characteristics it is unable to be explained by nature (DNA) or nurture (how they were raised) WITHOUT the colour of the background of reincarnation. I am not going to even try to rule out nature or nurture, because that would be foolish. Your DNA affects you physically, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Your nurture can affect you mentally, being brought up in a good home by loving parents or brought up surrounded by physical, mental, or sexual abuse including any combination of those three factors. Then there are the problems of the early death of a parent or sibling, entering the children’s services system where any kind of happiness or hell is possible, having good and loving friends or friends who are just using you for something you probably would not even realize until years later, if ever. That is what life is like in our modern society where parents own their children until they prove totally incapable of parenting a child or children.  Such children can very easily turn into adults with all kinds of neuroses or psychoses, just as children can who are born into rich families where the parents have no time for their children and they lavish them with money instead of love. All these conditions and many more can adversely affect how children become adults, if they ever grow beyond mentally remaining a child for life. And what of the children who grow up in a loving family, that is still no guarantee that they will become good people when they grow up? Most of these children will grow up to be good people, but not all of them. Some of the world’s most famous psychopaths or sociopaths were the product of good and loving parents and homes.  Conversely, not all people who grow up with physical problems and/or abusive parents or friends, or illnesses of the mind will become bad people. Who can know why? Not our psychologists and psychiatrists, that is for sure, because they aren’t allowed to even think reincarnation is real, or might have a hand in whether people grow up nice or not.

Here I offer myself as an example of a child who grew up with an abusive father, and a weak mother who died early of cancer, leaving my devil of a father to raise ten children alone. He sexually abused my three sisters, and physically and/or mentally abused all ten of us kids, even my little brother who was born with Downs Syndrome. Being the one with the “brains” of the family, I was probably the brunt of my father’s rage as he accused me more than once of “stealing my little brother’s brains.” I’m not going to say I didn’t have lots of medical and mental problems as I grew up and some that have lasted to today, as I sit here a 67 year-old man, living with a woman much younger than I (close to 20 years, and six cats) and with a complete litany of medical conditions. But in spite of all that, and other things that I did or had happen to me in life, I have a smile on my face and a Bachelor of Social Work in my pocket after finally graduating university at the ripe young age of 57. The other thing I have is a VERY STRONG sense of spirituality that I did not realize was so strong until many many years ago when an acquaintance (we didn’t know each other well enough to be friends) told me that I was alive way before my time, that I had an innate wisdom that far exceeded his mother and father put together. But not so much wisdom that when I was approached by a Buddhist monk about a year later, he looked deep deep deep into my eyes and said these words to me, and they were the only words spoken between us in that single meeting, “You’re not ready yet.” And with that he turned on his heel and virtually disappeared out the door of a restaurant where I was having a late snack before heading for home in an abandoned house in East Vancouver.

Those are the kinds of things that have happened to me in all kinds of circumstances, by people I had never met before.  Once a woman told me I scared her because my eyes were so old. Other people who read my poetry which I was writing in my “I want to become a poet” period, told me there was something in what they read that spoke to the future of life, a future they had never imagined. The most recent such event was only about 6 tears ago when I got into a taxicab in Edmonton, and the East Indian or Pakistani driver turned around to face me at a red light, and said, “You are very wise, you will never return to this world again. This is your last incarnation.” Then the light turned green, he put up the plastic screen between us, and did not say another word to me until the end of the trip, at which point I paid my fare and offered him a tip to which he put out his hand in a “stop” gesture, and said “It was my honour to drive you today.”

What am I to make of all these strange occurrences? The Buddhist monk was the most bewildering event in my life, though I have had many others that would be considered close seconds. However, it was his words that drove me after our very short encounter. I was already into spiritual studies on my own before that, but he inspired me to delve even deeper, and to study Buddhism to the best of my ability in the days before computers and the internet. There were very few books on Eastern religions and philosophies in Canada at that time, the Beatles had not yet travelled as a band to India, though George Harrison had had discussions with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi sometime earlier when he went to India to study the sitar.  After the Beatles went east to study Buddhism there was much more interest in Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Hare Krshna movement than ever before in the West, and it would grow because the Beatles led the way (again). Hinduism and Hare Krshna movements were about as attractive to me as was the Jesus Freak movement that had started on the West Coast around that same time. Young people were falling off the bus joining whatever group would take them in. And then along came Scientology and they were extreme, but that made them all the more magnetic to people who had never had anything. The youth of America had “dropped in, tuned out, and turned on,” so Timothy Leary had said, and they had been becoming hippies and flower children. Suddenly they were becoming desperately religious, but mostly not for the religions of their parents, those were passe and no fun at all. Christian-based religions  called for suffering and eternal damnation, with a slim possibility of reaching heaven if you could stay sinless for the rest of your life. Young people had been eschewing money and material things for drugs and excitement.  Now they were eschewing drugs and excitement for Eastern religions. The Western world was changing, and our beliefs about the world and life on this world were changing too. And one of the biggest changes for those years was the advent of the Buddhist and Hindu philosophies of reincarnation. The idea of reincarnation blew a wide swath through our subculture, affecting different people different ways.

I was (and still am) a hippie, but I was not doing drugs for excitement. I started with smoking marijuana, and after each time I smoked it I began to notice an increase in my ability to think. While I may have been speaking on a normal conversation level, my mind busy listening to what I was saying, and was translating my words inside my head, looking for hidden gems of wisdom that could be garnered from my words. And there were a lot of those, maybe nothing world-changing, but ideas that were changing how I functioned in the world.  At that time I was living off money earned by selling marijuana and hashish to people who wanted it, never to anyone who didn’t approach me.  And that was also the time that I started doing LSD (acid, we called it), the drug that really opened my mind to possibilities so far outside the box of normal thought that I couldn’t even see the box anymore.  Where were all these ideas coming from? I knew they were coming from me, from my mind, but how did they ever get there?

That was also the time that I became more careless in who I was selling drugs to. I was still only selling to people who wanted the drugs I was willing to sell, the list of two drugs I mentioned earlier, but now I was also selling acid, because I believed in it, and I believed it could help others the way it was helping me. Even so, as I said, I was getting careless, and I ended up selling drugs to two undercover RCMP narcotics agents. I was still living in Vancouver at the time, sleeping on the beach at English Bay, or at crash houses some of the more moneyed hippies were setting up. The two undercover agents, using the names of Sunset and Hart, befriended me and let me stay with them for awhile, as long as I turned them on to the dealers that were supplying those of us who sold the drugs on the streets. And I did a fine job of that, not realizing I was leading them to almost all the dealers in the West End of Vancouver, Kitsilano Beach, and even North Vancouver. At first I never clued into the fact that these two “fellow hippies,” who said they were AWOL from the army or something stupid like that, were not selling or using the drugs themselves, but were sending them back to “friends” in Saskatchewan where such drugs were said to be very scarce. I started to get nervous, something wasn’t going right, so one day I bought a bus ticket to Hope, which was all I could afford, and hitchhiked the rest of the way back home to Winnipeg where I started going back to school to finish my Grades 11 and 12. I was still keeping up on any news that came out of Vancouver, and when I heard that a number of people got busted by undercover narcs, and I read some of the names, I knew what had happened and that I was responsible for a lot of those people getting arrested and being sent to prison. I disappeared even deeper into normal society, and thanked my lucky stars that I got out of Vancouver in time. I took a part time job at a local grocery store to help finance my rent and meals while I was in school, and I thought I was safe.

to be continued…

3rd Answer to PUNISHMENT BY DEATH

The True Story of Rehabilitation

In Answer 2 PUNISHMENT BY DEATH I left you standing in a locked cell with your new cellmate, an open lower bunk bed waiting for you to make up your mind which of two bunk beds you were going to take, the lower bunk that looked unused, but your new cellmate claimed it as his, or the upper bunk upon which your new cellmate sat, and where his bedding warmed the mattress. Nervous as you are, still feeling shamed by your experience walking around nude in front of half a dozen uniformed guards, and then having a unknown doctor shoving his finger up your ass, feeling around for any contraband. Doesn’t he know you’re innocent of all charges? Doesn’t he know you don’t even know what kind of contraband to smuggle in, if you were going to smuggle something in? At last the finger was removed, and a line on a piece of paper checked. “Next,” the doctor had called, and you ran for the exit door. You didn’t want the guy behind you to see your shit running down your leg and leaving a line, no, adding to a line that was already on the floor but which you hadn’t noticed before. But that’s in the past. You’ll never have to live through that again. And you’ve got more immediate worries. Which bunk are you going to choose? Does it even matter? You say to hell with it, and sit down on the bottom bunk.

“Good choice,” the surly voice comes down at you from above, like God talking to Moses or Abraham. You take a deep breath and let it out slowly. And that is about the last time you feel safe while you are behind all those locked doors.

 

Being in jail is not like being in school, or even university. Nothing like work. You are told when to go to bed, and when the lights are about to be turned off. Come morning the lights come on, and something related to a fog horn is blown. You’ve got 10 minutes to shit, shower, and shave and get dressed for the day, but you are competing with your cellmate who wants to do exactly the same things. You quickly teach your body to get up 15 minutes before the light comes on, which is just a guess because you cannot wear a watch in prison, and there is no clock on the walls. Ten minutes after the lights come on, your cell door opens and you best get out fast. The door isn’t open very long. You join the other prisoners all walking in the same direction, walking down 6 flights of stairs, and into the mess room. Some trustee shoves a metal tray in your hands, and in no time more trustees have thrown dollops of mush, or eggs, or even sometimes bacon on your tray as the line forces you forward. You get about 8 minutes to eat and drink the slop they call coffee, then everyone is getting up and heading for the exit door while you see prisoners from another floor start to file in the entrance door. Any food or coffee you didn’t finish gets pushed into a giant garbage tub, and someone else collects the tray and spoon you used, just another dirty dish added to a growing pile of dirty dishes on what looks like a table on wheels with a garbage can stuck through a hole in the middle where the spoons end up. Your cup is unceremoniously thrown into another tub, smaller than the previous one, but used just as noisily. The room is a cacophony of sound that just about deafens you until you get out the exit door, and the sound level drops several decibels, telling you just how thick those walls are. Now people are walking in all directions, probably going to some kind of work or class or something. You have no idea what to do, until you hear your named shouted out across the floor by a guard. When you get almost to the guard, a short conversation ensues.

“You got any skills for a place like this?” the guard almost yells.

“Don’t know. I was a taxi driver before…”

In one smooth move the guard makes a tick on one column, then makes another tick in the box in front of the words next in line on the second column. “Yard duty.” the guards says with a straight face, “and I don’t want one piece of garbage on the ground when you finish before supper, and before you can say even one word the guard is already calling out another name, and you wonder what jobs the guy in front of you or the one behind you are getting. They’ve got to be better than yard duty.

 

Rehabilitation, you say, when do prisoners get rehabilitated to be better citizens when and if they ever get out of prison. For you, your rehabilitation program is learning how to pick up garbage off the ground, a highly needed skill on the outside. However long your sentence is, that is what you will be doing. Of course, there are times when psychologists offer their time to come and do group sessions for prisoners with specific problems, be it child abuse, a mental illness, PTSD, victims of racism, or whatever the good DR. is wanting to write a book on. Psychologists, psychiatrists, brain doctors, and a lot of other professionals need to publish books to keep in good standing with their Associations. Some write books by studying other books to put information from each book together in a new way, or they use old surveys to gather evidence pro or con the theory the survey was studying. But there are two specific populations that they use as subjects in new studies: university students, and prisoners. Neither group represents the “common people,” though, so their results are almost always skewed. University students do surveys either to impress a professor, or to make beer money without their parents knowing about it. Prisoners are never paid money, but they are paid in time away from whatever job they have been assigned to do. Neither population is trustworthy as a general rule, but the surveyers couldn’t give a damn. They’ll contort whatever evidence they are given to prove or disprove the theory they are writing about. That, hospital visits, trials for other offences, and conjugal visits are about the only things a prisoner can do to end the boredom. Even gang wars or other kinds of struggle are done just for the entertainment. Strikes and prison takeovers seem to be a thing of the past, but then I don’t read much news at all. Maybe they do still happen occasionally, but unless guards or visitors are being murdered they are not as newsworthy as they used to be. It’s all been done before, and for the most part the public do not want to hear about the plights of convicted criminals.

 

But if prisons are so boring, why is the recidivism rate so high? There are many factors in that statistic, and every person has different reasons for letting themselves get caught again, and again. 1) They don’t know how to do anything else except commit crimes. And while they are in prison, they learn better ways to do things, more ways not to get caught, but they are learning from people who were caught, so where is the logic in that.

  • They learn how to commit bigger crimes, to go from convenience store robberies to bank robberies, and how much more money you can make in the process. Criminals love to make money without having to work for it, and thus they go from stealing purses off little old ladies to pickpocketing, and armoured car robberies. They go from being “poor starving artists” to counterfeiters, or faking art, or stealing art that is worth millions that they sell on the black market for tens of thousands of dollars.
  • The thrill of it. Some thieves get orgasmic feelings from walking out of a business or home with something that does not belong to them. They start by stealing money from their mothers or fathers, and end up stealing fancy cars or fancy jewels. And there is always someone who will give them money for their stolen goods. Never close to the value of what was stolen, but they understand that getting ripped off by fast-talking fences still gives them more money than they could make in a year of slinging burgers in a McDonald’s Restaurant.

 

But those are the easy reasons for so many recidivists. Then there are the people who remember how they were treated in prison, like animals that had to be shamed into compliance. It might have been a guard who shamed them, or a warden, or the cop that arrested them in front of TV cameras, but now they want revenge, and they don’t particularly care who they take that revenge out on.

And then you have your psychopaths and your sociopaths who have no regard for other people or their property. Without medications these people are as unpredictable as a tornado, never going in a straight line destroying lives as if the people were dolls.

 

With help, all of these people can be made into good citizens.  But staying on medications for life takes the fun out of life. And fun is what they feel is their right, pursuing their happiness in whatever way they want to. And if they get caught, they just pull out their papers that say they are insane, and as soon as they are back on their meds and looking as normal as anyone can look, they have to be allowed out of jail. And they are free again, so who knows what they are going to do next.

 

The next time you look at the stats for recidivism rates, who do you blame for how high they are. The people who need help but never get it, or the prison system that is supposed to provide that help, but instead of hiring psychologists and social workers, they hire guards that are disgruntled police failures, or people who love to lord it over others, bullies all of them. Big adult bullies, who just love to push others around and say, That’s my job! I’m just doing what I’m told to do. And maybe that is what they are told to do, and that is why the bullies were hired in the first place.

 

But what else can we do? We can’t afford to run prison populations that overcrowd prison facilities. What else can we do, we have to protect the regular citizens of our nations. What else can we do? What else CAN we do?

 

That question has more than one answer, and in this blog I am only going to give you teasers for the next blog on PUNISHMENT BY DEATH. The very first thing you do is study those who were in prison once, and never went back. Another thing is taking the word punishment out of the adult population. You punish children when they do things the parent doesn’t like, actions they want to teach the child not to repeat. Third, you treat them with the respect any person wants to be treated with. And four, you use restorative justice every opportunity you have. Fifth, and last, or probably what should be done first, you deconstruct the nuclear family, and stop letting parents raise their own children , and make sure all children get a good start in life, without abuse, without poverty, without learning how to be bullies, but by giving them love, respect, and human contact of a meaningful kind. But who, besides me, is willing to look that deeply at the nuclear family, and realize that while it is responsible for creating non-criminal adults, it is just as responsible for creating criminal adults?

 

Where are the people with the strength to stand up and say, “It’s at least worth a trial, it can’t do any worse than we are already doing?

In Answer 2 PUNISHMENT BY DEATH

Why prisons will never work

Part Two – The terrors of a society brainwashed to be scared of people not like themselves

Have you ever been in jail for more than a night in the drunk tank, say at least two weeks? Have you ever faced a jury of your supposed peers, and seen the hatred in their eyes. Looked at the members of your jury and not seen one that would be willing to take notice of you with a smile or even a lightning flash of sympathy? Have you ever been taken to a jail or prison intake area, stripped down to your absolute nothings, forced to walk with a whole busload of naked others through a spray of water so cold and so biting that you think you have been secretly transported to a summer day in Antarctica barely warm enough to turn ice into sleet and hail that burns your body red, makes your eyes water, and your testes pull so far into your groin area that you think they will never come out again, come hell or high temperatures? Then one at a time you are given ugly prison uniforms, one-size-fits-all, which is all you will be able to wear for the next 2 to 25 years, unless you are allowed to wear nice clothes at your appeal, if you can afford one. Meanwhile, if you stole a fair amount of money and were able to keep it hidden from the police, your lawyer will gratefully take it off your hands, and if you give him enough, he will actually TRY to get your verdict overturned, or your sentence shortened. Money might not buy you justice, but it will buy you the appearance of justice.

Okay, so I’ve got you standing in line, still naked, prison uniform grasped tightly in your arms, when the line starts moving and a line of inmates called “trustees” (because they can be trusted to fink on you to either the authorities, as represented by the prison warden, or the group leaders of gangs of prisoners, some gangs which are local and temporary, and some that are in every prison in the USA and even some in prisons in Canada. And those same long-term gangs will be there as long as prisons and penitentiaries as we know them are allowed to exist) where you will be handed that prison’s version of what is counted as bedding. Meanwhile, before you can get dressed, and IF there is a doctor available in the prison, he or she will examine you to see if you have any obvious problems visible to the eyes, ears, or fingers. After listening to a few beats of your heart and cursorily checking your skin for signs of viral or bacterial infections, they will then stick a finger up your vagina if you have one, and your anus because everyone has one, because it might contain contraband, which is illegal to smuggle into a prison. Only then will you be allowed to get dressed, and then you will wait around, even if it is mealtime, until the last of your group of prisoners are dressed.

Finally you are on the move as a group once more, still grasping your holey, and/or threadbare and/or flea-ridden blanket to your chest lest someone attempt to rip it out of your hands. At last you leave the intake area and enter a “room” one side of which is an outside wall, and the other having runways full of cells stacked upon cells all stacked upon even more cells; probably at least ten levels of them, and no elevator in sight anywhere. Meanwhile, you realize the trustee leading your group is giving a long-memorized speech explaining the laws and culture of the common room, the eating rooms, cell runways, and everything else he or she thought you would need to know for your first day there. After that you would be on your own to survive or not depending upon which gang you chose to become a part of. (In the movies or on TV, the star always remains somehow “unconnected,” but this isn’t a movie, it is real life, and the threat of death is palpably imminent, so choose wisely.)

Suddenly the line in front of you is moving up the stairs, and at each landing sets of names are called, and those people move through an iron door that slams! shut after the last “new piece of meat” goes through the entryway. The same scene repeats itself at every floor landing. Eventually your name is called and you go through the entryway. Already a guard is walking down the runway, tapping open doors, saying a name once, and moving on. As you are busy hoping you didn’t miss your name being called, you hear it at last, and you enter the cell, where either one or two double bunk beds are standing against the side walls, and before you even look at the people sitting on or lying down on the bunk mattresses, you see a seatless toilet bowl in the middle of the back wall, where you will have no privacy taking a crap for as long as you are there. Then you turn your attention to who your bunk mate(s) is(are), and where an unoccupied uncovered mattress is awaiting you. You quickly go to it, hoping the other(s) are not able to hear or see how scared you are. No matter whether you are brainy or brawny, you throw your armful of bedding on the bare mattress, thinking that you are lucky you made it this far.

“Get your stuff off of my bed,” a vicious voice booms out, and you jump high enough to hit your head on the ten foot high ceiling. As you crash down you stutter, “But… But I… I thought…”

That same voice cuts you off, “You don’t think out loud in here. In fact, it’s better to not think at all. You’ll get in trouble that way in here.” At least this time the voice is flat, emotionless. Not friendly, but not unfriendly either. With a tiny bit of uncertainty and fear in your own voice you say, “Which one is mine?” Luckily you are in a one-bunk-bed cell, or at least you hope it is luckily.

“I’m sitting on it,” the voice states, daring you to make him get off. And at last you realize you are being tested. Your happiness while in prison just might depend on how you answer…

You are just coming to a decision when a far-away voice calls “Close’m up!”and the door to your cell moves and hits the doorjamb resoundingly! The sound is echoed by every cell door within hearing. Two-hundred and fifty doors (you don’t know this figure yet, you missed that part of the trustee’s speech) slamming and slamming and slamming within tenths of a second of each other. By the time the sound clears from your ears your mind reminds you, “That’s it, no more freedom for…” and the guy/gal sitting on your mattress is staring at you with a sneer on their face and a gleam in their eyes. “How you feeling, new meat?”

So, dear reader, how “are” you feeling right now? You’re unsure of which tactic to take, you’re still feeling humiliated from having to stand around naked so long in a group of naked strangers, but with fully-clothed guards looking at all of you at once, but you’re sure one of them is staring straight at you at the same time. And then that doctor, feeling inside your private parts for God knows what, and having him or her sticking their finger up your orifices with just a thin film of plastic glove between his/her skin and your insides. And then the walk of shame through the common room, and you are so relieved that you are finally dressed again even though neon orange is not your best colour, it’s the same colour every prisoner except the trustees are wearing, you’re tired from the long bus ride from the city, and its hours since you last ate, your stomach is gurgling in desire, and you have to make what might be the decision of your life. How do you really feel deep down in your gut? What are you going to do?

To be continued…

In Answer To “PUNISHMENT BY DEATH”

a-blog-that-appeared-on-wordpress-com

Part One–the use of capital punishment as revenge

On March 4, 2017, Nan wrote a blog called “Punishment by Death.” Unfortunately I arrived late at the beheading, poisoning, boiling alive, walking the plank, crucifiction, pressing, garroting, drawing and quartering, burning at the stake, whipping to death with birch branches, burying alive, drowning by waterboard, starvation, honey and ants, beating on the wheel, stoning, firing squad, guillotine, gallows, gas chamber, electric chair, fatal chemicals injection site, and even keel-hauling amongst uncountable other ways humankind has invented to intentionally kill people who had been judged, legally or illegally, too evil to go on living. All these styles of execution can now be described in two words, capital punishment. So, having arrived late, I missed partaking in a discussion on the merits and/or morality of punishment by death because the licence to give my opinion was killed before I got there. The most amazing part of the discussion, in my mind, was talking about the monetary value of execution vs. keeping the supposedly evil person in prison for how ever many years, which in the United States of America is usually until the person dies. (And to make sure he or she died in prison, courts handed out prison terms of hundreds or maybe thousands of years. I guess that was in case one of the persons so judged was either Methuselah, or Judas Iscariot, often called the Wandering Jew. Or maybe even Satan himself!). The outright stupidity of such sentences, virtual death sentences, is only the first sign among many others that capital punishment should be abolished world-wide. Well, Nan, I know this wasn’t personal on your part, but I still must weigh in on the death knell of capital punishment. So, all you readers out there who think punishment by death is a viable punishment, please read the rest of this blog, and definitely one if not two more. I happen to have a lot to say…

In my not-so-humble opinion, capital punishment is more than a crime against humanity, it is a crime against life itself. There are way too many cases where a person has been found guilty of a murder, only to be proved AFTER HIS EXECUTION that he was innocent. You talk about when a “man has been proven guilty” of certain crimes you think capital punishment should be used, but I can tell you of a case in Canada where a man was found guilty not once but twice of killing a teenage girl working alone in a donut shop, and it took a third trial before the defence was allowed to call as witnesses a large group of nurses who could place that man at their hospital half a city away from the crime scene at the time the crime was committed. He was busy playing Santa Claus for the children in the hospital. I don’t remember how long he was in jail for, but he was not given capital punishment in either of the first two trials only because there was a case before the Supreme Court of Canada arguing that capital punishment be outlawed in our country. The Supreme Court finally handed down their ruling that capital punishment was against the laws of Canada. This was fortunate for the twice-convicted killer of wrapping paper and bows and ribbons. By this time, of course, the case was so cold that it could not be reopened. The police believed they arrested their man the day after the murder, and never bothered to collect any evidence that did not lead to this man’s conviction. This was back in the 60s, I believe, or the early 70s. And it is only the worst miscarriage of justice of the many cases where convicted people were later exonerated of their supposed crimes, all over the world. Our Supreme Court judges earned their pay the day they spoke to take down capital punishment as a remedy for murder.

And even when you say the words “capital punishment,” you are not talking punishment. A person cannot be “punished” once they are dead. To execute anyone is a plain case of revenge for revenge’s sake. And from where I sit, the American law for double jeopardy where a person cannot be tried twice for the same murder is about as stupid as is the case for capital punishment. Americans would rather let a guilty person, especially rich or famous persons, go free for sometimes petty bureaucratic reasons while sending innocent people to their deaths for crimes they did not commit. Did anyone do a comparison of those statistics? I’m willing to bet more murderers got off because of double jeopardy than of actual murderers getting executed in all the States of the Union combined.

But, seeing as you do have this law still on the books, there’s this guy in the States right now, I think his name is Donald… Yes, Donald Trump, I believe. If anyone should in America should be convicted of a capital crime… I don’t know if American troops anywhere in the world have killed a supposed enemy of the State since DT took office, but since he is the ultimate Commander-in-Chief of all America’s armed forces, when that first murder occurs (if it hasn’t already), he should be arrested as the ringleader of a bunch of armed thugs. War too is a crime against life, and particularly human life. Why do we allow it to happen? It is our responsibility to see that laws allowing capital punishment are killed everywhere around our globe.

to be continued…