A Plea for Morality In Our Justice System
I try to look at everything from a spiritual prospective. Sometimes, I question spiritual teachings because I wondered, are the writers saying that we are only to pray or meditate, ignoring the suffering going on around us. How am I being of service to others I ask, without action but than I think how else can we fight darkness except by being the light, rising our own awareness, teaching by example. In his book, Happier Than God, author Neale Donald Walsch shed some light on my dilemma. He states in parts, “No one who teaches… positive thinking would suggest for a moment that not a single thought may be given to existing conditions…How can you do anything about “what is so” if you can’t even say what is so?…Calling everything “perfect” is not the same as calling everything “wonderful”… Calling a condition perfect is simply acknowledging that it exists in exact alignment with your soul’s in-this-moment agenda – which may very well be to change the condition as a means of knowing, demonstrating, and experiencing Who You Really Are.” So there is a role for activism in spiritual awaking. This was good news for one such as myself who likes to discuss current issues. Like John Mayer sings in his hit single, "Say"; if I did not say what I needed to say my soul would not be at peace.
One area that I see that needs to be brought to the light is America's justice system; for only the light (truth) shall set us free. An institutions that was created supposedly to serve Americans has instead affected far too many of our citizens negatively. A disturbing fact in our justice system is that ninety percent of criminal cases in the U.S. are settled by plea deals. Plea deals are used as a fear tactic to intimidate poor people into pleading guilty. This tactic is immoral and in part why America has the largest prison population in the world per capital. The sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken message is that pleading guilty is your only option if you can not afford a good defense, take it or leave it. Counties are rewarded for convictions not for helping people. I would like to make a proposal to the moral consciousness of America. Why not reward Counties and States for having the lowest crime rate? The millions of dollars saved on building jails and prisons can be invested in after school programs, recreation centers, free Head Start programs, manhood and womanhood training programs, parenting classes, etc. By keeping kids off the street and giving them an outlet for their youthful energy; we can save them from the prison system, if this be our goal.
I rather my tax dollars go to helping Little B build his self-esteem and self worth in venues that help fill the voids in his life. Whether the void is an absent father, housing needs, food or poor health. I rather help him when he is a child than to run into him years down the road as an angry, broken man in a dark alley with a gun. To sit and argue about whether he was conceived properly and to punish him by withholding the help he needs is not solving the problem of crime; nor will this enable him to become a productive member of society. We always talk about morals but what about the moral consequences of doing nothing to assist the poor? Unless he gets help to become a better man he may not be in his son’s life and the cycle will continue.
When President Obama visited a homeless shelter for youth on January 19, 2009, he said, “these young people have huge potential that right now is not being tapped,” end of quote. I ask you, why are we as a country wasting this potential, this human resource? Is it because of prejudices (prejudgment) about them? If so, as a nation it is time that we put away our toys of indifference, get off the merry-go-round of blame and grow up. We did not just wake up one day to a prison system that house over two million people. We took the road here and once we acknowledge that this isn't working, we can change it. How? By changing our minds on how we view others, we can change our world. Remember only those that are hurting, hurt. I question why we are not bothered that our country has the largest prison population in the world. This question should be on every American's heart.
When I stated that we need to invest in inner city youths, I used the word "investment" on purpose. When we invest we look for a return on our investment. What will our return be some may ask? I declare that it will be world recognition as a more fair and just nation, a more peaceful nation for all of us. We know what the alarming statistics are, African Americans make up the bulk of those incarcerated. Some say that African American youth do not value human life. Once we value their lives, they will value ours and their own.
“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.” Ralph Waldo Emerson