Another year has passed. Another year of visiting my son in prison. Another year since he has been sentenced to what constitutes life in prison. While we gather with our families and friends, celebrating and sharing warmth and love, creating memories that we will hold in our hearts for years to come, there is a hole in my heart. An empty place that cannot be filled by gaiety and merriment.
All across the United States are millions of families that have that same hole, that empty place at the table, the empty place in the living room, an empty chair that sits on the wall. We have created a nation of law and punishment. We have created a nation of self righteousness and condemnation. We have created a nation of intolerance and vengeance. The losers? Families, children, communities and even the nation.
We have yet to learn that all people make mistakes. All people stumble and fall short. It is not the stumbling, the failure, the mistakes that reveal the heart of the man, it is his ability to overcome those things. We are all failures at something. We have all stumbled over something. As the saying goes, "It matter not that you fall one hundred times...it is that you get up one hundred and one."
We have CHOSEN vengeance and condemnation in this country and put it into practice in our injustice system. We have CHOSEN anger, bitterness and hatred. Look around. See the cost.
There are evidence based practices in other westernized cultures that prove accountability, education, humane treatment and forgiveness work. Not only do they work but the community and the nation's become BETTER for it. They have seen the high cost of condemnation and mass incarceration and refused to accept the destruction that it brought to their nation.
The United States needs to come to this same realization. The United States needs to realize that vengeance, bitterness and retribution only brings division and hatred....and fear.
Wake up America...Prison Doesn't Work.
Until that day comes, during times of celebration, millions of families will gather together and quietly pass the empty chair... grabbing their chest, trying to comfort the hole in their hearts.
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