Monday, March 02, 2009

A tick in a box

There is no news this week. Nothing appears to have taken place that is worth remarking on. To put it in the jargon of the technological, robotic age, I have had very little "input" this week. (I've seen "Short Circuit" too!) But that is only as far as I know personally: who knows what is going on elsewhere to which I am not privvy! Consequently, I am back to my homespun philosophy and my personal observations, most of which seem to me fairly self-evident at best, and downright boring generally.

I woke up very early this morning and got up right away. I have discovered over the years that if I lie in bed, awake and thinking, sooner or later I may get to brooding. I used to do a great deal of that in the old days. Brooding on the ills done to me, either real or perceived, the end results were always the same - I grew resentful. I should think that every prisoner indulges in this from time to time. I don't do it these days. If I wake early I get up and get on with something, reading or writing or simply listening to or watching the news. There is always something better to do than brooding. Having said that, I have to point out that brooding and thinking about things are two different horses.

Anyway,this morning I was thinking (not brooding) about the insistence - dogged, unreasoned insistence in fact - that prisoners should, right across the board and regardless of the individual, partake in courses which, to be quite frank, are fairly puerile. For a long time, and despite the fact that I was involved in the creation of the Enhanced Thinking Skills course, the prison system was insistent that I needed to complete such a course. It took a long time before it was finally admitted that I had no need of it, and even then it is not straightforwardly admitted in such terms. Instead, I am considered "unsuitable", which could give the uninitiated the impression that there is something so seriously wrong with my thinking that the course would be useless to me. They can't just say, "This man's thinking is far superior to anything we are attempting to impart." That would be fair, and the idiots who tick the boxes don't do fair!

It's the same with their choice of words in all things. When a con is asked to take part in something that is entirely voluntary and the con says, 'No thank you', that con is marked down as having refused, thus giving the wrong impression. The word that should be used is, declined.

The latest attempt to drag my personal progress backwards is the strange desire to get me to take part in a CALM course - Controlling Anger and Learning to Manage it. The fact that I am routinely reported as being one of the calmest characters around the place is ignored. Let's face it, they need the tick in the box. But if I get any calmer then they will be able to nail down the coffin lid because I'll be shuffling off this mortal coil, I will be handing in my dinner pail, no longer needing the bib and tucker, the membership in the life club will be cancelled - I will be dead!

Of course the prison service and the idea-less people in charge say that courses are for the good of the prisoner, but unfortunately they cannot seem to understand that one size does not fit all.

"It's for your own good!" they cry.


It brings to mind the words of Leo Tolstoy:

I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means - except by getting off his back.
The Voice In The Wilderness

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