Prison Solution: A Desert Isle

Why not send them all to some isolated island?

         When some subject gets stuck in my mind there’s nothing I can do except keep writing about it until I’m ‘written out’. And now, it ‘s me and people in prison or jail. In fact, the point’s been reached that when I hear of someone being put in jail or prison, for any length of time, I cringe.  
          Nor that I condone what they did, but, just consider:  every time someone is imprisoned,  your taxes go up.  Whether County, City, State or Federal,  it matters not.  We,  meaning  you, begin paying, right then and there, for their three times a day meals, and while it isn’t high class, it’s far better than many homeless person eats.  And it’s put on  your Tab.. 
          If in prison, everything they use is paid by you,  and the majority of the men (I didn’t teach at the women’s center) said they’d never lived better. Three meals a day, clean clothes, a bed, dentist and doctor’s care,  (often for the first time in their lives) operations if needed, recreation, a place to worship, books to read or study, and, when old and needing special care they get it. Plus the heated buildings, nurses, and all the stuff that you, perhaps can’t afford, yet  you are paying all that for them. .
          So you get ‘hit’ twice.  Once when you or someone close is robbed, killed, embezzled, raped or whatever,  and secondly you’re  charged for all their expenses and often for the rest of their life.  Huge ‘prison hospitals’   have been built to care for the old and helpless prisoners and is  paid for by you, as well as for every brick used to build them, all upkeep and the nurses, doctors and their equipment.
          I wish there were an answer.   I know a Dentist, Eye Doctor, and Medical physician who give their time and talent as an offering to those in prison.  And yet, (I repeat myself, but just can’t help it), there are thousands on the ‘outside’ who have never broken a law, but can’t afford  such  needed care. Yet you pay for getting a  prisoner’s every ache or pain diagnosed, followed by the care for whatever is found, and at the end of it all,  you pay for their burial expenses,  too.
         Then there’s the job of making our License Plates.  It is a prison job  and the men are paid for that work.  Yes, they must have a good Prison record, but there are non-criminals who would like that job, low wages or not.  It would be a job.
          Prisoners break our laws.  They kill or rape our loved ones. They swindle us out of our savings for their unlawful investments.  They break  into our homes and rob us of not only valuables, and jewelry, cameras, TV, computers, etc, but often,  so very often,  simply tear, shred or destroy all they see, vandalize what they don’t take, throwing cherished china against the wall to destroy them,  open drawers, rip needed paper records, old wedding licenses, pictures, and birth certificates. They simply vandalized in their fury. 
          And then after destroying lives,  you  pay for a trial, for an attorney to defend  them,  and their ‘board and room’ while this is going on. And then, you  take over their living expenses for  the length of their sentence.  And when they get out,  with no job,  you provide places where homeless, and they are in that class, can sleep, get free meals.
          More than one prisoner, (usually those over 45 or 50)  in my classes said, and not joking, that if freed from the prison, the first thing they’d do is commit another crime so they would be sent right back.
          Every step of the way, You pay for their every need.   If you know the answer, tell someone who can make a difference.  And I’m only half serious, but why not send them all to some isolated island.  Give them seeds, tools and what it takes to make a life and then forget they’re there.  That would be justice.  I think.

The 12th Hour

I’ll meet you on the river’s shore . . .

There was an Indian Newspaper published out of Montana  which, is now gone.  Much of what was there, was worthy for Indian or non-Indian, and I remember that newspaper and I also wish it were still here. It was good.

But, anyway, they had their Wise Old Men and Women, who were deeply honored for their insight, and some of their words impressed me so much I saved them.   Such as today’s words.   I pondered over the words then, cut them out, saved them, and dang it all, as I pore over them again, once more I ponder, and shiver.

Scan them yourself, word by word, and see what they do for  you.


For long centuries the world’s been told
“This is the 11th Hour”
And we knew it to be true.
But quietly, almost secretly, the 11th Hour passed
And now, the hoped for, but feared,
Twelfth Hour is Here.  It is Now.

It is the time to know our own Truth,
And cease looking outward for another
To tell us what to think and do.

It can be a glorious time, for
The River is flowing fast.
So rapidly that many are afraid
And cling to the shore
Crying out that they are being torn to pieces.

But the River knows The Destination.
Let go of the shore,
Dive joyously into the midst of the stream.

See who is with you and rejoice!
Look fearlessly at your fears
And never once reach back to the shore,
For whenever we stop to question
Our Spiritual Journey also stops.

The River knows  the Way and
Will carry you with  it!
Look to no other for counsel,
For the time of asking others is long past.
Be Still and allow yourself
To know and act in a sacred manner.

That wondrous Hour
Is no longer anticipated
But is here.  Now.

In awe and humility know that
You chose to be part of the Change.
Are one of those the world has long awaited.

Yeah, shiver, shiver, shiver.  No longer the 11th Hour, but it’s now the 12th, and we, you and I  chose to be here, at this time, and  to do our part. What does it mean?  And, shiver once more as the last line tells us that each of us is one of those that the world spoke of.  The long awaited ones.

I  write and share words that mean something to me. These wise Indian words  touched me when I ‘found’ them, a few decades ago, and they affected me in the very manner today. Good luck, and, who knows?  Maybe we’ll meet at the river’s shore.

Learn All About Yourself

Whitman taught us how in Leaves of Grass, and it is as new today as when he wrote it . . .

My friend Ed brought out his copy of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” last weekend, and, as we read I realized how little I had understood those marvelous words.

It is one of the most humble books I’ve ever read, yet, when first published (and still is to the casual reader)it appears to be one huge ego trip.  Nothing, however, could be farther from the truth, even though the very first words are those memorable, “I Celebrate Myself.”

For, “One’s Self,” is the compass-needle necessary to find the secret Walt hid in the haystack of his poetry. For when he carols out “Of One’s Self, I sing, a simple separate person” it is well to remember that it was not just ‘his’ self he sang about, but ‘all’ selves. Separate enough, as we well know, but still…thinking, feeling, being and loving as one.

Like all seemingly ‘decent’ people, we feel that too much candor about our inner emotions might be judged either vanity or bad taste. Tacky is the word oft used today, or even worse, it might be called boring.

But the first thing one learns from “The Leaves” is that candor about one’s private emotions may not be egotism at all, but deep humility. Openness about one’s inner struggles do not divide one from another, but brings about the comforting assurance that all men are born, suffer, enjoy, love and die in much the same manner.

I belatedly learned the truth that Whitman found over a century-and-a-half ago and revealed his feelings in his simple, yet mind-blowing way.

Get out your copy of “The Leaves”, let it lie around on a handy table, and prowl the pages. It isn’t meant to be read as a novel, but to be picked up casually. Dipped into, and though the term was unknown at his time,  today it could be included in what’s become known as “a bathroom book’.  Why not?

Oh, what a self-acceptance he had as he penned: “I know I am august, and I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood. I exist as I am, that is enough, and if no other in the world be aware, I sit content. And yet, if each and all be aware, I shall still sit and be content.” Immense!

He sang the Song of Me and sang it as though he looked out from the eyes of man, woman, worker, slave, master, (yes, his life spanned the Civil War) or, a leaf of grass. He sang of the beauty of a man’s or woman’s body, he sang of the everyday ecstasy of sex. He sang of birth and death and knew them both to be but different aspects of the same every-flowing life.

Whitman, couldn’t you guess, was not thought well of in his time. Those same subjects, even today are looked upon, by some blinded people, with averted eyes and ears. Those who knew Whitman closely, including both Emerson and Thoreau, were the same.  Oh, yes, they liked him, they admired and praised both him and his work, but at the same time, they liked him better when he was in the next town, living with some one else.

But that’s always the way fore-runners are treated. They, in themselves, have no sense of proportion. They cannot adhere to a schedule or stay off subjects most average people consider improper. So, with their free, outspoken manner, they can be uncomfortable to be around.

No one is a genius to those who know them on a day by day basis, except, that is, except before they arrive or after they have gone their way. And that was the way with Whitman.

But his genius lives on, and if you haven’t poked through your copy of “The Leaves” lately, do so. There are dozens of issues, and at all prices, but Whitman will tell you more about yourself than you ever knew, or could guess. Take off your blinders, forget your guilts, forget your fear and forget your ‘pride of uniqueness’. Read Whitman and learn to know yourself.

Learned In Kindergarten

Then forgotten . . .         

         The words I use today came from Johnny Carson, and though he did not write them, it was he who gave them to me, and  really, to all the world.  Perhaps you know them, too, they are titled, “All I Ever Really Needed To Know, I Learned In Kindergarten”, and were penned by Robert Fulghum.        
          “Most of what I really need to know about how to live, what to do and how to be, I learned in Kindergarten.  Wisdom did not arrive at the top of the graduate school mountain, but was to be found there in the Sandbox at Nursery School.
         “These are the things I learned .  Share everything.  Play fair.  Don’t hit people.  Put things back where you found them.  Clean up  your own mess.  Don’t take things that aren’t yours.  Say you’re sorry when you hurt someone.
          “Wash you hands before you eat.  Remember to flush.  Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.  Live a balanced life.  Each day learn some and think some.  Draw, paint, sing, dance, work and play some every day.
          “Take a nap each afternoon.  When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic.  Hold hands and stick together.  Be aware of wonder.  Remember the little seeds we grew in plastic cups?  The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we’re all like that.
          “Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seeds in the plastic cup, they all die . . . and so do we.
          “And remember the book about Dick and Jane and the very first word you learned.  The biggest word of all . . . . LOOK.
          “Everything you need to know is somewhere back there in the Sandbox.  The Golden Rule, love, basic sanitation, ecology, politics and sane, sensible living.
          “Think of what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world . . . had cookies and milk about 2:00 o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap.
          “Or if we had a basic policy of our nation . . . and the whole world, to always put things back where we found them.  And cleaned up our own messes.
          “And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is still best to hold hands, stick together and not let anyone get lost.”
         I never did know who or where Robert Fulghum was, but his words hold wisdom that could re-make our world over night if we would but go back to the rules which kept kindergarten a safe, happy place to be.
          Where the only rules were those to teach us how to live happily with those around us.
          His words cut right through me today when I stumbled upon them, the same as they did years ago, and I . . . and the entire world . . . would like to go back and take the whole kindergarten course again.  Thank you Robert Fulghum for writing the words . . . and to Johnny Carson for finding and giving them to us all.