Archive for the 'ex-convicts' Category


June 21, 2012

I wonder if there are circumstances in which a person returns from a long absence to find they can’t fit into what they left and are returning to, that they are too changed by it.  Soldiers come to mind, the incarcerated, even astronauts or members of the Peace Corps.

What interests me here is how their difficulties become compounded if they are counseled that they can fit back in but in fact they actually can’t as things stand — if they are now outside the system they left, they probably need to take that as their starting point, not try to make things work according to the old system as if nothing had happened.  It’s not that they wouldn’t be bearing in mind the goals and values of the old system, it would be a recognition by them that they could no longer reach those goals through the same mechanisms as others who never left can use, that the system will never respond to them in the same way again, so they have to find other, acceptable, ways to reach the goals, interact with others, and get their needs met.  But it also means that they would not get caught up in paying into a system that would no longer respond to them as it used to and therefore they wouldn’t become as frustrated by the fact it will not operate as before.

I am thinking this is true for people who go on spiritual journeys, too.


Mood pyramid

August 5, 2011

My current theme in my interpretation of current events, or at least of how they come across in the reports of them, is that we are fascinated by the top of the pyramid and tend to disregard the base.

We talk about polarized politics in Washington and jobless ex-convicts in NYC, to take two examples, and act as if we can address that last, dramatic part of the situation by itself, the part that arrests our attention.  I suspect it’s more like putting brakes on a train, and that applying the intervention much earlier in the process is much more effective.  The anger and fear out of which the Tea Party seems to have emerged, our country’s continued dance with racial and ethnic discrimination — these I think lie somewhere in the background behind the drama of politicians making sharpened sound bites and behind the alarming statistics about unemployment among minority members with fewer credentials and the liability of a criminal record.

Our individual relationship, including contribution, to these larger social forces makes them seem to me a more obvious place to start in an effort to improve conditions, instead of merely wringing our hands on the sidelines as if there is nothing we can do to change things.  I am not altogether sure whence the anger and fear of the Tea Party and the folks who elected them, but with regard to jobless black and Latino ex-convicts, it seems to me that at least part of what is going on is that we in our society treat blacks and Latinos worse than we are willing to admit and then express surprise at these the  results.  If people can’t find acceptance in the mainstream culture and have their own contributions folded into it as equally valid components, why wouldn’t these people foster an alternative culture for themselves?  That’s at least the dynamic I’ve seen, blacks and other members of minority groups looking for their place in mainstream opportunities during their adolescence and being steered elsewhere, sometimes overtly and sometimes more subtly — and yes, some individuals have the resources to overcome that initial response to them, but some don’t and do what the mainstream (including as conveyed in our media and entertainment industries) tacitly, or worse, expects of them, like a self-fulfilling prophecy by proxy.
So, with regard to Mayor Bloomberg’s initiative, I’m thrilled with it and the positive attention it brings, but I hope it also inspires the public more generally to revise their attitudes towards blacks and Latinos, and whether or not they’ve been incarcerated.  And I am hoping that we can similarly identify why so many Americans are fearful, angry, and alienated enough to give rise to something like the behavior of the Tea Party congressional members, and then for us to address those issues at their source, as well.