How do you ensure safety? By building Prisons? By having lots of cops around?
Susan Hutchison (heard on kuow today) running in King County to be Executive of King County.
Her perspective is nothing new: punishment not prevention – investing in prisons and cops. This is the same old crap that has been touted for decades, and which has no doubt fostered the environment for our prison population to grow.
How could it make sense to take funding away from schools, medical assistance, arts programs, local agricultural plans, homeless relief, and so on, but invest in the other end of the problem, the place people wind up when all else has failed, when their lives have little richness or meaning?
What if we invested in our people’s quality of life, and opportunities for all children to become literate and cared about by their communities? Why don’t we find ways to spend money empowering communities to feed themselves instead of spending money locking people up after everything has gone wrong?
Maybe if people had fulfilling lives with real opportunities to become rounded, reasonably well-fed beings, maybe, just maybe they wouldn’t become angry desperate criminals!
By the time a kid is 14, if no one has cared about this kid, if this kid’s parents have been locked out of the American Dream before them and therefore have little skills to pass on, this kid will probably fulfill our worst expectations.
I know people who went to impoverished schools, right hear in the US of A, who naturally, and quite rightly came to the conclusion that nobody cared about them. They were forced to sit in rooms with 50 other students, and textbooks so old and battered that it mattered little what happened to them, and with teachers who were overworked and underpaid, and therefore operating on a thin string, having little time or energy to apportion to each child. These kids got the message: You don’t matter much to anyone.
So between growing up undereducated and undervalued, they become marginalized, living on the unvisited fringes, under the radar, doing whatever they have to do to get by, to get clothes, to get food, and to get self-respect.
Anyone who has ever read any Holocaust literature knows how quickly humans will do whatever they have to do in order to survive. Formerly upright humans will resort to criminality in order to survive.
If we lock young people into choiceless environments, we ensure a lawless one. Fear is a powerful motivator; we all live in fear of our mortality, whether in the long run, or in the immediate today-I-eat-or-I-die sense. It is a heavy emotion to tap into.
How can we find a balance between nurturing people, and maintaining a safe world?