Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Growing in the Cracks

In the movie Jurassic Park, the chaotician Ian Malcom, played by Jeff Goldblum, warns that life will find a way.  What better example in our daily lives than the little bits of nature that thrust themselves upward through cracks in the pavement?  I adore them, these wee warriors.  I cheer them on, hearty growing things that surprise me in the midst of a parking lot, sidewalk, my driveway.  I know that as a human living in a quasi-urban setting, I should abhor them, yank, rake, chop, and poison them, but how can I?  I can't bring myself to remove these reminders of living entropy.

They put me in mind of compassion, taking root in places where it shouldn't thrive, but...somehow...it blooms.

Someone is currently in jail, serving his sentence for the drug related charges he was arrested for last winter.

Through him, I have had some opportunities to be compassionate, and I have taken them.  No one should be without contact with their family, so I make phone calls, let family and friends know that their person is in jail and how to remain in contact with them.  I have talked a few people through court proceedings so they'll have an idea what to expect.  I've given a ride or two to people who had no means of transportation.  I even, once or twice when I could, put a few dollars on an inmate's books so they could get soap or deodorant or envelopes and stamps from the commissary.  You see, when they enter the jail, men and women alike are given nothing but the inmate's jumpsuit and a pair of pseudo-Crocs.  They have to purchase underwear, paper, pencils, stamps, soap, shampoo, deodorant, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, and if it's cold they can either shiver or buy long underwear.  No money?  Too bad for you.


There's another well of compassion, one inside the jail.  It's an unexpected thing - we are taught that people in jail are a bad lot, the worst, that they fight and hate and steal and bully...and sometimes that does happen.

More often, though...

There's V.  He's in his fifties.  Never been in trouble with the law before.  Served in the military.  Got into an argument with his wife last March.  Reached for his keys so he could go for a drive, cool off.  She got them first, wouldn't give them to him.  He reached for them in her hand.  They bumped their heads together.  She called the police and he was charged with domestic violence.  Am I minimizing, sugar coating?  Nope.  Even the wife, now the future ex Mrs. V, says that's what happened, now that she's had time to cool off, realize what she's done and what she stands to lose.  She's sorry she ever called the cops and would love to recant...but here in Redneck Central, even if a partner/spouse withdraws their complaint, a person can still be prosecuted...because there are plenty of victims who will change their minds out of fear.  This is not such a case, but the DA doesn't much care...it looks good on their record, doesn't it?

Anyway, there's V.  Arrested, sitting in the booking/processing area, he tried to call his ex/first wife, but she doesn't answer strange numbers, so he couldn't get through, and the jail phones don't allow one to leave a message.

He was dumped into the population with nothing but a tremendous sense of bewilderment and prison issue jumpsuit and shoes.

Within 24 hours, some thirty different men asked him if he was okay, made sure he got food, showed him the ropes, made sure he had a shirt, some socks, hygiene items, even coffee (prisoners can order instant coffee from the commissary...they prepare it with tap water, or, if they're lucky, warm water from the shower).  When Someone learned that V couldn't get through to his first/ex wife, he called me, gave me her number and V's information.  I called her, talked to her, explained what had happened and what she could do to let him call her, when his preliminary hearing was, what the charges were, and how to put money on his books, and how to arrange bail and what it would likely cost.  I gave her my contact information and told her to call or text any time she had a question and I'd do my best to help her.  Funny, at first she thought I was one of the deputies from the jail.  I set her straight - they don't do this kind of thing...helping the families is NOT in their job description.  The ex/first wife and I text back and forth all the time, now.  She and V came to see me when Someone was taken to serve his sentence...they were worried about me.

Neither V nor his ex/first wife could believe that Someone or I would reach out like that.  Neither one would ever have thought that there, in jail, where there is so little...strangers would offer whatever small comforts they could spare.  True, sometimes there's an expectation of repayment or of paying it forward, but more often, it's just people offering their fellows a hand.

V isn't an isolated incident.  Someone and I are not an isolated incident.  In one of the darkest, dirtiest, grittiest, ugliest places humanity can wedge itself, there are many spots of beauty, so easily missed...so often uprooted and torn up by the keepers of the jail...but they grow, regrow, refuse to give up, refuse to let go of that little spark of spirit, of kindness, compassion.  Thank the gods for that.

Despite they way the world seems to be turning of late, I believe in the good and loving heart in all people.  Funny that it's a bunch of inmates in the local jail who are helping me hold on to that belief, f
lowers poking through the cracks of the pavement.

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