So yesterday I learned that rosh hashanan fell on my Birthday, and so did the beginning of the year of jubilee, something taking place only once every 50 years. Apparently, things taken from me will be restored back to me. Despite knowing so little about either one of these occasions, I thoroughly embrace them and view it quite favourably that they happen to fall on my big day. Interestingly enough, jubilee in this context of the Jewish calender actually was called that due to the blowing of a special horn on that day, ringing in the coming year. So, I am tooting my horn about the fact that on my Birthday a horn is traditionally tooted, well, blown. And boy am I ready for a New Year.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “These Horns Were Made for Tooting.”
Writing about this life is an endless endeavour. In fact, everything that has ever been written is or was about this life. Life can be experienced in falsehood, and thus cause us much pain. Life can also be lived in truth and thereby bestow upon the living great pleasure. This life is a gift, which, if not properly viewed, is a slap in the face of the living. For, is not this life the wellspring of so much heartache and suffering? Don’t we have sufficient amounts of writings that show this to be true? And, don’t we also all have severe experiences that teach us this very thing? Life is a gift from God, it says, and yet, how hard is it to believe this? My name actually means, gift of God, and yet how much did I struggle to accept this as truth? Until today, which is appropriate as it is my Birthday. Until now, I have received no gifts whatsoever. Yes, I have a long held animosity towards my Birthdays, for how should I enjoy them if I don’t agree with it’s outcome, which is the gift of my life? So, the realization hit me right between the eye today: Accepting my life as being a true gift is only possible if I also accept the other gift of God, which is grace. God’s grace has a face and a name, sounding very much like a Mexican man. Imagine having a compass in life, but one which has no needle. Pretty useless in finding one’s way around. The intricate connection between the gift of life and the gift of grace is giving my life direction and begins to bring order in a seemingly random existence. Yes, this life has a happy ending, I am on my way, and on it there are several markers to assure me that I am on the right path. Without grace, I would never make it there. This much I know.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “No Cliffhangers.”
Raised by a mom who valued new findings of the pedagogy movement during the hippie era as gospel, discipline was not part of my staple food when growing up. Consequently, developing a daily routine came to me as hard work. Often times, I would falter under the weight of it. It took time to appreciate my otherness in that respect, in particular, as I had not been able to adopt a certain external schedule due to our continual moving around the world. People don’t all view things equally, I quickly came to learn, and so a relativism formed within me. Coupled with an anti authoritarian view of the world, routine as a form of norm was naturally rejected. At times I think that may be one of the reasons I identify with prisoners so strongly. At least on an emotional level I can relate to being trapped (as any form of norm still presents itself as an entrapment to me) and I can comprehend and almost at times appreciate the kind of thinking underlying certain non-violent crimes, for it is a creativity outside the box that is required to question the status quo in order to achieve ones goal. Well, saying that, I do not suffer from the societal backlash of being imprisoned nor from the punishment an imprisonment places upon a person with all its internal rules. I guess fighting for a routine is one of the hardest things I have had to do in my life, and I can empathise with those who shudder at the prospect of having to hit the outside world, trying to make it in a world that essentially reeks alien to them.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Daily Ritual.”
Outside my grocery shop sits a dishevelled man tightly gripping several grimy editions of the Strassenfeger, a Newspaper written and published by former homeless people and sold by current ones. We would like to believe that what this man really needs is a job, and so I overheard several strangers passing him by, dropping good advice instead of a coin into his bosom. They remind him to get a job, as though he hadn’t thought of this occasionally. Supposedly, though, his problems run a bit deeper than lacking discipline to hold up a job.
One story in the Bible puzzles me over and over. It’s the one of the distribution of talents. Its found in Matthew 25. The Master in the story distributes bags of gold (or talents, as it is more commonly known) unevenly. There is absolutely no social justice in that story. The fact that your mum probably was no crack addict, you most likely did not witness your dad pimping out your sister, and your parents didn’t abandon you to fend for yourself, all this speaks for you to have had a better start than some who did experience those things. Absolutely no apparent justice to be found in those circumstances. None whatsoever.
Folks shouting that they are self-made are probably those who advice homeless people to get a job. Sometimes the odd’s are just stacked up against you. Sometimes, shit just happens. Being poor is not a free ride into unthinkable crime, though, and one ought to ask the question what poverty actually is. Poor people in the USA, is that necessarily an oxymoron? Warren Buffett does not seem to think so. In fact, he goes on to say that “low-income Americans get an exceptionally raw deal”. Yet, compared to a rickshaw driver in Bangladesh he will in all likelihood fare quite well. Wikipedias first sentence describes poverty as general scarcity. According to this part of the definition, the self-made man is a poor bugger indeed.
Yesterdays prison theatre featured a piece on a man who struggled his whole life, wanting to make a living, but continuously came up against the most random of insurmountable hurdles. In that vein, I have met men who worked hard their whole lives, only to now be paying dearly for someone else’s injustice committed against them or one of their loved ones. Sometimes they paid with their health, yet certainly in all cases with their cash. Life is a bitch and circumstances certainly don’t mint coins in the currency of hope. Unleashing our fury over this mishap towards those who fold under the heavy weight of existence is certainly a sign of moral bankruptcy. Recognizing we are all at one time or another poor in spirit is a good starting point for justice.
HONY, Humans of New York, is an incredibly inspiring and enthralling idea. The Spotlight is shone on regular people on the street who proof to be far from ordinary. I love how, in a time of social media feeds being crammed full with the luxury life style, HONY shows life, the real version of it. People we pass by on a daily basis have stories to tell. One year, I came across a whole set of people involved in the phenomenon of prostitution: A girl who had prostituted herself for several years. Through her I met several other girls who had also sold their bodies. I also met a Pimp, and saw what his money bought him. Further, I got to learn of a man cheating on his girlfriend with a prostitute and I also knew his girlfriend quite well. Then I also was in touch with a woman who had made it her life’s mission to help women who are trapped in human trafficking, especially in the sex trade. All these people were found in the direct vicinity of my life, and I found it to be an incredible privilege to get such a diverse insight into the subject.
Today I am going to a see a theatre play shown inside a prison, with all the actors being inmates. Since I am engaging with the subject of crimes and criminals, I often ask myself about those people in my direct surroundings, be it on the bus, the train, in a coffee show, the tram driver etc. Statistically, I may have interacted with murderers before without my knowledge. Why is it now different, since I know that the Prisoner I am an official prison visitor to is sitting in for that? He actually did not execute the killing. Somehow, this seems like mere details to me. It is such a taboo, taking another human beings life. My grandfather was certainly guilty of it I imagine, as he was a soldier in World War II. Yet, during his life time, he never once brought it up. When is a good time really to do so? Over coffee with a nice bit of crumpet?
Will we come to view our current methods of treating mood disorders (anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, Borderline disorder etc) and social deviances (criminal activities such as Paedophilia, Rape, Violent Assault etc) as the empty promises of the village quack of times gone by? No one really believes in bloodletting, applying leeches to a person and other Medieval practices as scientific healing procedures any more. Neuroscience is one of the fastest growing sectors in modern medicine. Some say, it entirely re-invents itself every two year due to the vast amount of new data being added at a breakneck speed. I believe that our prisons are a real solution to a real problem. Yet, merely a short term one, as over 43 Percent of released prisoners will re-offend. There is need to revamp the system. Evil will never be entirely excavated from humanity, yet rehabilitation approaches need to change, in the best interest of everyone in our society. Prisons can’t simply be the future prospects and in that sense ‘Universities’ of today’s neglected and abused children.
Pictures, dates, names, personal interests and data all arrived in the mailbox today. This happens a lot, only today it was from a known criminal. How many people do I sit next to in the U-Bahn who have committed the exact same crime? How many drive that very U-Bahn, and yet I choose to put my life in their hands daily. Moses was one, so was David, there are only a few people in the Bible who were not committing such an act, yet they are greatly revered by the entire church. And here I am, slightly overwhelmed by my knowledge of this deed. Stupid. Is a person only that one act he once did and nothing beyond? David was a man after God’s heart after he killed and lied and slept with another man’s wife. Is there life after murder? Or is it a life sentence? Questions are piling up all around me. The longer I engage with the subject of imprisonment and crime, the more questions I seem to have. Did you know that people on a jury are actually less quick in determining someone’s guilt in comparison to those non-involved ones? The closer I get, the less I have picture perfect answers.