Friday, April 09, 2010

Enhanced thinking

Staring into space
Sitting here this morning just staring into space, as is my taste from time to time, I began to reflect. I do that a good deal too! The older I get, the more I find myself reflecting on time and the passage of the same. Let's face it, I'm not getting any younger, and every day spent in the middle of this nightmare is a day I will never see again.

I seem to do that with an increasing regularity as each day passes - reflect on time and the nature of it. This morning it has been triggered by my remembering a passage from William Hazlitt, who died on September 18th, 1830. He wrote:

As we advance in life, we acquire a keener sense of the value of time. Nothing else, indeed, seems of any consequence; and we become misers in this respect.
I think that I am becoming a miser of time in that I no longer have any desire to afford the time to listen to those around me who don't really have anything interesting to say. That may seem a little on the arrogant side, as though I think I am better than those around me. Yup! That's me - a big success! The only thing I am a success at is my ability to accumulate a catalogue of disastrous decisions going back a long long way. Mistakes by the bucket full, that's all I am a success at - and our mistakes in life are really the only thing we can truly call our very own. No, I'm no better than anyone else, not even the worst of my contemporaries.

Then my thoughts - thoughts, according to report writers, that I am not capable of because I haven't been taught to think and am not capable of abstract thought - turned to those very report writers who, year after year, continue to trot out the same old, tired falsehoods (because apparently they haven't done the Enhanced Thinking Skills course either, although they insist that they can teach prisoners how to think).

These report writers completely ignore the facts because, quite simply, the facts do not suit the report they want to write. Well, I've got some news for them - Aldous Huxley once wrote:

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
So, to ignore the facts of any matter does not make a difference to the value of those facts. These report writers make quite outlandish and extraordinary claims with very little and often no evidence whatsoever to support these claims and, as Carl Sagan said:
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
The report writers continue blithely to repeat absurdities year after year despite any arguments or any conflicting evidence that the prisoner may offer to refute the absurdities. These "facts" then get included in various documents - Sentence Planning, OASys, Risk Assessment Management, all manner of assessments and, of course, the prisoner's Parole Dossier.

Various boards and committees then examine the "facts" and come to their decisions based on inaccuracies and, in many cases, downright lies. They make their decisions and create hurt and misery.

Was it Voltaire who said:

Those who believe in absurdities will commit atrocities.
We're not all bad - or worthless
It is generally accepted (amongst the 'Holier than Thou' crowd) that prisoners are hulking brutes who drag their knuckles along the floor as they clump along and that they communicate in a series of grunts and neanderthal sounds. 

Well, there may well be one or two who fit that description around the place, it would be of little use denying it. However, most prisoners are quite reasonably turned out, generally polite and can actually read and write to a fairly competent level.

"Good Lord!" the cry goes up, "Prisoners reading and writing? Whatever next? Our children are leaving school and they can't do that!"

Well, send the little buggers to prison then - or put the teachers in jail!

Given a level playing field, most prisoners would be quite decent people and the real truth is that all that the majority of them really need is a chance in life. Okay, nobody is denying that they (the prisoners) have made a few mistakes, some quite terrible and horrific mistakes too, but should they be condemned forever because of those mistakes? Show me someone who hasn't made mistakes and I will show you a liar.

Many prisoners are not really bad people, they just don't know who they are - either because of environment, peer pressure, misguided cant or downright confusion. Of course we have the intrinsically wicked fellows, but they would be that way no matter what, and their numbers are a lot fewer than the authorities would have us believe.

Part of the problem with many villainous characters, and I know more than my share, could well be a sort of personality crisis rather than a natural evil. Nobody is born evil and the only evil that gets into a child's head is that which grown-ups put there.

There used to be a President of what was once Czechoslovakia and, while he was seen as a wicked fellow, he once wrote something which actually made a lot of sense and touches on why a lot of people seem to be quite wicked. He was speaking more about the arrogance of man rather than criminality but the sentiment is quite valid when it is examined objectively.

Allow me to reiterate what he said and then let me leave it to the reader to think about. It's quite enlightening in its way. Vaclav Havel wrote:

If I don't know who I am, who I want to be, what I want to achieve, where I begin and where I end , then my relations with the people around me and the world at large will inevitably be tense, suspicious and burdened by an inferiority complex that may go hidden behind puffed-up bravura.
The prison service could do well to study that passage because if they continue to tell prisoners that they are no good and worthless, then there is a danger that sooner or later the prisoners will believe them.

Tbe Voice In The Wilderness

1 comment:

Donnie said...

Long an interesting passage there. I particularly enjoyed the quotes in the first section. Regarding the time irritation-Stressing is futile as negativity only tends to reduce your time here. The answer is to find the peace in the now...