November 2017
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wounded people hurt others, but giving can heal / news -- juvenile offenders create & give blankets


I firmly believe that the only reason anyone ever hurts someone else is because they have been hurt. It's a cycle of pain -- we all have brokenness, and our brokenness causes us to hurt others. For this reason, I think it disturbing that we lock people away (which causes them MORE brokenness) and don't do anything to heal them before releasing them into society again. It's treating the symptom, not the cause. I understand that it would be terribly costly to give them help, and that it would be unfair to all of the broken people who have not committed crimes and cannot afford help -- but at the same time, the most compassionate, giving, wise people are the ones who have been deeply broken, done hurtful things to themselves and others, and then been healed. If we truly worked on healing the broken, we would have an incredible resource of wise people to learn from.

We might not be able to afford counseling, at least at first, but we could help heal the broken by giving them the chance to serve. It is such a healing experience to give, and I think many broken people feel that they have nothing to give, and so do not experience this healing. When you give to someone, you are opening the doors of your heart -- then those same doors are open to receiving gratitude and love. For a person who has been rejected by society and placed into jail (or detention), feeling a positive connection with people is absolutely vital. Someone who feels they are going to continue being mistreated and distrusted is not going to take the risk of growing, of finding better ways to live, but someone who feels that there is at least a chance of them being loved and accepted just might be willing to take that risk. We need to show people in prison that they do have a chance of being a productive, accepted, loved member of society.



"Juvenile offenders start life over with a crochet hook"


These people have attempted murder, destroyed people's property, sold drugs, etc. But given the chance to create and to give to others, something changes in them. It's not perfect, of course, but it is a large improvement over the norm: once released, 85 percent stay out -- far up from the national average of 50 percent. The article describes one person's experience in particular: "To see his eyes well up with emotion about the smiles his blankets have brought a needy elderly man and a toddler in a day-care center is to witness genuine tenderness." That person, Branden, was in for attempted murder, and for the first year and a half of his time there refused to join the program. Now he has created more blankets than anyone else, and speaks with real hope about his future.

I hope that people take notice and use the power of giving to change the lives of all inmates, not just the young ones. I believe all people deserve that chance.

((note: I found this article through the Good News Network, a site that collects positive news from other publications. Anyone can submit, so if you regularly read the news, please submit any positive news you find! You can also add the site's feed on LJ: good_news_net))

LJ idol topic 4: "Current Events" ((feel free to vote here if you get something from this post))

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Comments
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mme_furiosa ══╣╠══
I love this. This is a good counterpoint to my post. I really believe in these rehabilitation programs that teach "criminals" about their own worth and potential. One of my favorite programs is in Chicago: it teaches former inmates to be beekeepers. It's amazing to hear these hardened men talking about honeybees with love and respect.

Thanks for the reminder that "damaged goods" is just a state of mind.
belenen ══╣heart in my throat╠══
"We're all damaged goods"
-- my favorite quote from my favorite movie, "Playing By Heart" ♥

I haven't read your post yet (I wait to read all the lj idol entries until after I post my own) but I look forward to it. ;-)
belenen ══╣╠══
acid_burns ══╣lilly rush / human rights╠══
This was such a beautiful, inspiring post ♥

"I always saw the beauty in things, and that was the
heartbreak for me. It really was that I couldn't believe
how beautiful the world was, and yet it seemed to have
nothing to do with me."



belenen ══╣interconnectedness╠══
thank you lovey ♥
deleon ══╣╠══
I work as a counselor in a residential treatment center for adolescent boys, with charges just like the ones in this article. One of the boys on my caseload told me the other day that he likes to crochet. Reading that article has given me the idea that with the holidays coming up maybe he and some of the other boys would like to make and donate blankets or hats. Thanks for sharing this.
belenen ══╣inspired╠══
oh, yay! you are most welcome; I hope it works out! ;-)
collectively ══╣Rose╠══
That's very cool. I very much agree with what you've said in this post. My dad has done some work with (adult) prisoners in an alternatives to violence program, and has found it largely very rewarding. People, even people who have done bad things, have such potential, and it's really inspiring to see them making different decisions that are so positive.
belenen ══╣beautiful╠══
People, even people who have done bad things, have such potential, and it's really inspiring to see them making different decisions that are so positive.

I very much agree ♥
libra_dragon ══╣╠══
Very nice piece.
belenen ══╣writing╠══
thank you ;-)
puppetmaker40 ══╣╠══
It is nice reading some positive news. I know it is out there but it can be hard to find.

Nicely done.
belenen ══╣writing╠══
It definitely is hard to find!

thanks!
aliyna ══╣╠══
I agree, positive news is good. I don't watch the news, I haven't in years, because it all makes me righteously angry and/or sad, but I'm glad when LJ friends bring happy things to my attention.

I only have one qualm:
The caption under the photo speaks of a "Crochet Hook" when behind the dude in the photo, it's tables and tables of Fleece Fringe-Tied blankets. Which... uh. Don't involve crocheting. XD Whoever originally reported this is clearly not a crafty person.
belenen ══╣eccentric╠══
oh, actually they do both crocheting and what they call 'tied fleece' blankets. ;-)

I don't watch any news either. I have limited time here on this planet and I don't plan to waste any time focusing on depressing stuff that I can't change. Instead I'll focus on things I CAN change and things that bring me joy. ;-) I love that GNN site!
aliyna ══╣╠══
febrile_lune ══╣╠══
Niiice.

I agree with you 100%.

I think our jail system is very inhuman on so many levels. The argument seems to be that the criminals have "given up their privilege" to be a part of humanity, but I think that is not logical and I think it is hypocritical. The human condition entails things such as suffering and repeating cycles, and humanity in part means having the capability to overcome these things, learn from our mistakes, grow and give back. I have faith that we are always able to reconnect and even to relate to those who can't... connect to us, if we ourselves have learned better and have the empathy. This means that while some people may never "rejoin" human community because they are very mentally ill and not capable of it, they suffer from conditions we can sympathize and empathize with if we search ourselves deeply... for if we value love, etc, then seeing someone else incapable of experiencing it the way we do or of growing significantly, then we can feel badly for that person. Atleast I do, since I believe love is unconditional and everyone deserves it.

Anyway, that's just a bit of a tangent because I always end up arguing with people about people who "can't" relate to humanity anymore. In those rare cases, it doesn't mean WE can't relate to humanity anymore!

And in most cases, like with the people in the article, it IS possible to heal and grow. Someone making a mistake or doing something inhumane is not an excuse to throw away our own.

Anyway, I think our jail system is very inefficient, ignorant, and perpetuated by the power-privilege cycle (much like sexism and racism are). A difference is that to go to jail one usually actually commits a crime, whereas being female or of a certain ethnicity aren't a crime. But it is still based on the idea that somehow people can do or be something to make one inferior. The reasons why people hate anyone probably has to do with a misconception, and hate means not giving the person a chance to change (whether or not they even need to, but it's the mindset) because somehow they believe that some people are just not born with or have just chosen not to be "worth as much."

I think people do not want to give up their power privilege.

Anyway, in the case of prison, I think some argue that "Well I've been hurt and I don't commit arson, those people had a chance to get help or deal with their issues otherwise but they made the wrong choice." But the thing is that everyone has a different circumstance, everyone is on a different place in ones journey and not everyone has had the same options to get help or the right mindset.

A person who has hurt others and is sent to jail is someone who does not value oneself as it is. Obviously having that belief about oneself was part of why one acted out in the first place, so reinforcing it is not even logical.

Negative reinforcement DOES NOT work, atleast not nearly as well as positive reinforcement. When we acknowledge others as human beings, and good people, show them we are thankful for them or see something in them, those people become much more willing to cooperate because they now have someone who sees something in them. And they now have new hope, and they have a sense of bonding they do not want to lose. People who already feel like they have nothing more to lose are those who are most likely to commit such crimes.

febrile_lune ══╣╠══
Instilling people with a new sense of hope and showing them alternative ways of thinking about things and behaving, gives the person something to hold onto, work for, and therefore will be likely to work towards NOT losing that.

And ESPECIALLY! Damnit especially when it is a kid! I don't understand how people can solely blame children as if the child is a "bad person" when a young person still NEEDS direction, guidance, and is still developing a sense of the world and of boundaries and of oneself. If a kid acts out during these stages, something has gone wrong in the development, which has been the responsibility of those caring for the kid. I'm not saying all parents of juvenile delinquents are bad parents... but it isn't just the parents, it is so many factors involved in how a child is raised. Plus even good parents make some very critical mistakes, meaning well but doing a lot of harm. That is not intentional but it is not the fault of the kid.

I'm not saying that the kid or that anyone doesn't have to take responsibility for ones actions--- but the way one will LEARN responsibility for ones actions is to have a chance to see that he or she actually has an impact on people, and that it can be good or bad. It reinforces the notion that one does have choices. Which is why something like the crochetin project is marvelous in my opinion.

I am a HUGE believer in Unconditional Positive Regard, which is treating someone as though he or she has worth ... UNCONDITIONALLY. That means t hat no matter what mistakes are made, someone is to be treated like he or she still matters and has a chance to change. If we keep telling people that they are BAD and that it is definite, they are bad and always will be, who of those people will actually believe he or she CAN change? Therefore who will even try to? Reinforcing a negative role only helps perpetuate it.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
I so much agree with all you had to say that I don't have anything to add!
mourningdoveava ══╣╠══
Your post made me think of my brother. One of the things that profoundly upsets me is that even though his very obvious woundedness was what caused him to hurt other people, including me, NO ONE was willing to help him. All the programs and things he went into were designed to stop his behaviour, not treat it. The result, as you well know, was heartbreaking.

I remember Michael often told me he didn't do much, because not much was expected of him (from he who is given much, much is required...) And I believe that sometimes, when you sit broken people down and say, no, despite everything you still have something to contribute and something to give...

It makes a world of difference.

I'm glad you posted this.
belenen ══╣healing╠══
*hugs* I don't know what to say... it is heartbreaking. I think many people (and I used to be one of them) see hurtful things as a symptom of that person being willfully nasty, rather than acting out of brokenness. And we do have the power to change ourselves to some extent, but a lot of times our brokenness is just too much for us to handle on our own, and our efforts may look like nothing at all.

love you ♥ thank you for this comment.
browneyedgirl65 ══╣╠══
A very good article, it's nice to see positive programs like this. I sometimes think that teaching people empathy is as important as any other subject you get in schools.

I've seen/heard about similar results in teaching people to garden. I think it's because gardening is inherently meditative and focused work which is another skill set many people lack.

Thanks for your article! I like stuff that makes me think :-)
belenen ══╣tree wisdom╠══
thank you for your comment! And I could definitely understand how gardening could be helpful -- it's caring for another living thing ♥
lastres0rt ══╣╠══
Submitted this to digg right after I read it. Hopefully it'll get some press.
belenen ══╣writing╠══
awesome! ;-)
imafarmgirl ══╣╠══
nice entry.
belenen ══╣writing╠══
thanks!
anchasta ══╣╠══
Whoo! That's an awesome program! :)

And a great post.
belenen ══╣writing╠══
I agree!

thanks!
walkertxkitty ══╣╠══
This is beautiful. I know that one of the reasons I'm so deeply involved in community projects is out of that need to give something back. I can only imagine what that must be like for someone who has already been labeled "throw away" by society.
belenen ══╣interconnectedness╠══
yes, exactly ♥
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on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.