To your mad world—one answer: I refuse.
~ Tsvetaeva, Marina.
“Poems to Czechoslovakia”
“Modernism deliberately abstracted Nature and glamorized convenience, and this is why we have ended up seeing the natural world as some sort of gigantic production system seemingly capable of ever-increasing outputs for our benefit. … We have become semi-detached bystanders, empirically correct spectators, rather than what the ancients understood us to be, which is participants in creation.”
– Prince Charles
Friends, one of the most important books I’ve read in years: The Divide by Matt Taibbi. I highly recommend it. If you read nothing else, the introduction to the book alone is worth the price of the book.
This ambitious book documents America’s unequal administration of justice to rich and poor.
Some quotes from the book:
“Obsessed with success and wealth and despising failure and poverty, our society is systematically dividing the population into winners and losers, using institutions like the courts to speed the process.
“For a country founded on the idea that rights are inalienable and inherent from birth, we’ve developed a high tolerance for conditional rights and conditional citizenship. And the one condition, it turns out, is money. If you have a lot of it, the legal road you get to travel is well lit and beautifully maintained. If you don’t, it’s a dark alley and most Americans would be shocked to find out what’s at the end of it.”
“Twenty-six billion dollars of fraud: no felony cases. But when the stakes are in the hundreds of dollars, we kick in 26,000 doors a year, in just one county.”
“Our prison population, in fact, is now the biggest in the history of human civilization. There are more people in the United States either on parole or in jail today (around 6 million total) than there ever were at any time in Stalin’s gulags. For what it’s worth, there are also more black men in jail right now than there were in slavery at its peak.”
“The great nonprosecutions of Wall Street in the years since 2008, I would learn, were just symbols of this dystopian sorting process to which we’d already begun committing ourselves. The cleaving of the country into two completely different states—one a small archipelago of hyperacquisitive untouchables, the other a vast ghetto of expendables with only theoretical rights—has been in the works a long time. The Divide is a terrible story, and a crazy one. And it goes back a long, long way.”
~ Matt Taibbi, The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap
The article exposes examples of neglect and abuse that have taken place in Arizona’s prison system. Please read the article. What follows are my thoughts, written just after reading it myself.
Absolutely disgusting… makes me sick.
That’s how easy it is to neglect prisoners. Society really doesn’t care that much… and those that run the prison system know it. Let’s face the facts. The reason this sort of treatment is tolerated (and believe me it happens far more than you’d ever imagine) is because most of our society is just happy to have criminals out of the way, out of our frame of vision- so that we hardly ever have to remember that such things as prisons and inmates exist- that we might actually be called to minister to them; that we might be obligated to remember their humanity.
“Not in my backyard.”
As long as inmates are out of sight, they’re out of mind. That’s our society’s general disposition towards convicts. God forbid we have to face these people on any regular basis; God forbid we have to look into their all too human eyes, or learn of their all too human stories. God forbid we come to the terrifying reality that they are just like you and me; they too have sinned, and they too have been wayward children of God.
They aren’t humans, they’re criminals.
This is the grand belief that convicts are actually different from you and I. It’s the deluded and desperate belief that they are worse than we are because they are behind bars. This belief is all too common, and I’m here to remind you (and myself) that it isn’t Christian to believe and behave this way.
You see, dear reader, this is the great pretension… and we all are guilty of it. We really think that we aren’t as sinful as the men and women behind bars. I mean, just look at them! They LOOK like criminals! It’s so easy to write them off, so easy to compare ourselves to them and think with some smug pride, “well, at least I’m not a _____________ .”
This is why Christ himself and the Saints that have followed Him are so adamant that we have but one comparison to make: how do our lives match up against Jesus; how does our righteousness compare to God’s righteousness?
“Let us measure ourselves by our Master, and not by our fellow-servants: then pride will be impossible.”
– Charles Spurgeon
Notice we are not called to compare ourselves to our neighbor, and especially we are not called to compare ourselves to those we deem as less moral than we are. It’s been said that pride is perhaps the human trait that we most vociferously cling to. And here, in this case of prison neglect and abuse of inmates, we see it all too well.
In our pride we’ve discarded our fellow humans, our fellow sinners, our fellow penatents, our brothers and sisters in Christ, because we not only can’t be bothered by the problems associated with their criminal actions, but because we get some deep, insidious contentment in believing ourselves to be above those miserable convicts.
This is why prison ministry is so important, dear reader.
“You can judge a society by how it treats its prisoners.”
…. our society allows the abortion of babies and dehumanizes prisoners every single day….
Lord, God, help us.
“I tremble in fear for my country when I reflect that God is just.”
– Thomas Jefferson.
Imprisonment has become the response of first resort to far too many of the social problems that burden people who are ensconced in poverty. These problems often are veiled by being conveniently grouped together under the category “crime” and by the automatic attribution of criminal behavior to people of color. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages.
~Angela Davis, Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex
When is the Christian community going to stand together and make a commitment to homeschool all our children?
For too long Christian families have willingly handed their children over to the hands of the State (into the hands of moral strangers) for seven hours a day, five days a week, ten months a year. Think about that. Handing your kids over to a social system designed to create non-Christians.
Gone are the days where the public school system upheld anything remotely Christian in ethics or values. Currently (except for a few classrooms here and there) what is presented as education is secular, liberal indoctrination. Anti-Christian thought paraded as fact and “science” all day long.
Christian perspectives are not only dismissed as myth and superstition, but they’re openly mocked and berated. What child could withstand that moral and intellectual assault for four years, let alone twelve?
For how much longer are Christians going to subject our children to the diabolical machine of public education?
Are you willing to make the commitment and sacrifices necessary to homeschool your children?
(Your thoughts, comments, opinions, questions are welcomed)