Mirror of Life and Forgiveness through Solitary Confinement

I was browsing through msn when an article caught my attention. The title is, Solitary Confinement: Punished for Life. The report is a sobering reminder of just how important relationships are to people. It almost proves the idea that people are a social species. After reading the article, you should also take another look at the Eighth Amendment. A person’s standing in society is important. Loss of standing is the most severe thing that can occur to a person. It can become insidious.

Forgiving Deep Harm

A person who has done a horrific thing may not get people’s sympathy. Depending on what it is, I am certain that sympathy would be challenging for me. I think most persons have that one thing they may find very hard to forgive. You can forgive a person and genuinely not hold a grudge and emotionally move towards a cordial disposition with that person and still be cautious of their negative tendencies.

Forgiveness does not always mean to surrender ourselves to deny the track record of those who are prone to harm us in ways that are difficult to recover. At the same time, we cannot be consistent in our beliefs if we hide those whose behavior is among the most displeasing. The most prudent observation is that this is the kind of problem you cannot fix overnight. At least I do not see that you can.

A Better World

What you can do is start from the position of where things should be. We should live in a better world. It is a mess. Most of us, definitely me included, go along. Truth is, individuals are limited. Leaders however have to wonder if they want to be surrounded by reminders of a lack of advancement in civilization. Root causes of crime across all social levels (wall street to main street) are dissatisfaction among people; inadequate support structure; and lack of a personal concept of balance.

These things have direct representations through either drugs, economic issues, social conditions or all three.

Can more people exist in a living situation within a general social structure that does not lead to horrific behavior that seems to necessitate an intense response? That seems to be a long-term project. The only acceptable way to achieve that sustains the dignity of people without eroding social standing. The original character of society is at odds with such ideals. Default, mature social character unfiltered is essentially stoic, decisive, and quickly repudiates error of a subjective nature. Can be good for the momentary survival of an individual but less conducive to an enlarging population.

Emotional Intelligence / Rational Intelligence

Solitary confinement and social isolation in general is an admission of limited intelligence. A failure to be larger than the painful emotions of a situation and set about recovery. I know something about this. I have dealt with others who seemed ready to burn down a situation socially. Although it was painful in some of those situations to try to recover what seemed to be a hopeless state of affairs, sometimes I was able to continue with the person towards a productive outcome. Sometimes I had help with that. At other times I was unequal to the task and was unable to reach them. Occasionally, I see a bad person when I have to remember it is unappealing behavior due to another cause. In most cases, when relationships go in a bad direction, there is usually an underlying source of stress. Excellent intelligence can engage with that source and shift things in a positive direction, limited intelligence simply has limited solutions.

No Easy Path

Reading the article on msn, I am reminded that limited intelligence in the affairs of people can be harmful. Trust and forgiveness can be hard. You can forgive, but trust can be trickier as it either flows from wisdom or fear. I also see that there are two sides to every story. We simply have to believe every life is valuable, even those we may not like as much for the terrible things they have done. Not just the life of the body, but of the mind as well. You can kill a person’s mind. A sick pleasure can be derived from that. An insidious malady that can overtake a person like an intoxicant. A condition that has to be avoided. Giving improper punishment can sometimes harm more than those originally harmed by the recipient of the punishment.

Some of us believe those kinds of situations can be avoided. That does not mean the present can be fixed. Also, I have my failings as well when it comes to a tolerance for unseemly behavior. No one who writes about ideals live them entirely. Existence incurs a probability of error. At an individual level, I cannot offer much in practical everyday solutions or even a real life example. My own approach is to simply recover back to the right place when possible but that is not an approach that is widely embraced.

Institutions and leadership may have that opportunity to recover the dreams of the past despite perceived failings. While the present world often seems to miss out on the aspirations of the past, those ideas remain. Maybe one day, a future generation across all levels of society will realize all the hopeful words and ideas they learn about as they are nurtured for the world.


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