By The Spiritual Explorer | Published 17 July, 2015
Dear Spiritual Explorer: When I think of the miserable conditions under which people are incarcerated, I am ashamed of humans. I understand that there are psychopaths and sociopaths and these people must be put away. But I still do not understand why criminals cannot be rehabilitated in prison? What do you think? Larry P., Grand Rapids, MI
Dear Larry: I call this a need for an evolution of kindness. When I think of how people are treated in prison, far more horribly in many instances than many deserve and less like humans, than animals, I am sorrowful at the depths to which people have fallen in their actions, or that we have shown a blind eye to what is being perpetrated. We think we are an enlightened nation, and yet there is more incarceration here in the United States than in any other developed country. That alone calls for us to call for an evolution of kindness.
Not just evolution of kindness but revolution of morality
How can we call ourselves a moral nation when we allow these atrocities to occur? Or even better, how it is okay that it is well known that when one is sent to jail or prison, that they are likely to endure rape or other calamities so horrible that it rips the decency from their own souls and they are forced to either retaliate or suffer mightily? How is that reflective of a nation that calls itself predominately Christian and promulgates a certain morality? It seems to me that what is needed more is not so much an evolution of kindness, but a revolution of morality.
Casting an eye upon the inmates
I do not speak of the psychopaths, sociopaths and other pathologies that are present alongside lesser infractions. These people need to be imprisoned and frankly, away from the general population. They are incorrigible and will never rehabilitate.
Some people say that those who guard these people have to be immoral themselves to feel comfortable with what they are tasked to do. Frankly, I cannot imagine having to guard prisoners and what you must do emotionally inside yourself to be able to not only punish but also outsmart a prisoner to survive. It says that when you look into the abyss you become the abyss. It is hard for me to believe that these guards do not likewise feel the pain that they must inflict on others in order to survive in an untenable atmosphere.
How can there be an evolution of kindness?
We must open our minds and eyes to the suffering that goes on in prison and no longer turn a blind eye to it. We cannot continue laughing about rapes and other misdeeds that occur when we send young men or women to prisons. We must be responsible for the rapes and power plays that are permitted. We must demand that guards have a modicum of awareness and consciousness and demand that they be willing to be part of a rehabilitative effort, and not just guards over intransigent prisoners. That would be an evolution of kindness.
Not everyone is Nelson Mandela
There are those who claim that some very strong persons do get rehabilitated; they point out Nelson Mandela, who used his opportunity in prison, to forge a new nation’s morality. We certainly cannot expect everybody to be able to have the same dint of will as a Mandela to resurrect him or her from hell. There are many who are not as strong whom this system can easily destroy. We must protect the weak also, and not just the strong.
Of course, there are also those who are so traumatized by their time in jail that they actually do develop the will to never repeat the experience again. These are few and far between. Most are so affected by the cruelty rendered to them that they never recover and emerge from prison embittered and victimized. This attitude then contributes to a repetition of crime.
Most of the people in jail get there because of lack of education and impoverished circumstances. They have grown up in a bankrupt atmosphere and have not been fed correctly. Our guru once said, “Feed people first, then give them religion.”
How to begin an evolution of kindness
What matters is that you and I as moral and spiritual people stand up for an up leveling of morality in a system that still hearkens back to pre-civilized times. We need to call for restructuring and redefinition of the prison system. We must see that our own evolution of kindness begins when we see that these prisons and the horror within are but reflections of what is wrong in our society. That the impoverishment and hopelessness that many of these people come from is a result of the lack of educational opportunity and consignment to living in places that promote violence.
How can you expect a child to grow up happy and make good choices when as they look around, they are faced with their parents’ impoverishment and consequent hopelessness. Ask yourself if you would have the requisite strength to overcome similar obstacles and circumstances if you were faced with the same upbringing and surroundings.
A RADICAL PROPOSAL TOWARDS AN EVOLUTION OF KINDNESS
My radical proposal suggests that we change the diets and surroundings of these people who are incarcerated. Let’s give these prisoners and their guards vegetarian food; take away their cigarettes and drugs. If those guards do not wish to go along with this new regime, let them go. Cultivating an atmosphere of healing will allow prisoners and guards to aspire to more than what has even offered to them before. No longer will they be ingesting food with a great number of chemicals that can change behavior and in a smoke free atmosphere, they will feel generally better, even if just physically.
Minus those persons profiteering from an unhealthy prison, there will be less recidivism. We will be rendering true rehabilitation which in the long run will result in healthier people, mentally and physically, with less people sent to the infirmary and others dependent upon anti-depressants. Give the prisoners access to better books and studies so that they will have an opportunity to be hired when they leave prison.
What is the point of allowing people to sit around and think of violence and revenge and hopelessness? Will it not serve our society better when these people return to society more whole and more available to take their place again as responsible citizens, hopefully having learned their lessons? It would be a true evolution of kindness.
And won’t it be wonderful when we will also know we have made a contribution to a healthier society, and that our tax dollars are supporting something sane? Let us move forward to an evolution of kindness within ourselves and for the society in which we live!
If you have a question about “the Evolution of Kindness,” or anything else, you can write me at Ask The Spiritual Explorer.
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