Monday, May 22, 2017

"For Spacious Skies, For Amber Waves of Grain..."

America, "Land of the free, home of the brave," is bi-polar. At once, she professes to love freedom, and then she hates it. Her minority peoples of color have borne the brunt of this Jekyll-Hyde personality. It comes of a germ deeply embedded in America's DNA. How else to explain a history of confinement of innocents unparalleled among civilized societies?

America enslaved her African-American population for over 250 years, despite those unfortunate people having done nothing wrong. Again, she forced Native Americans unto reservations though they had done nothing wrong. She forced Japanese-Americans into internment camps though they had done nothing wrong. Today, America holds me in prison though I have served my time and have done no wrong since my initial offense.  

In all these instances, the State has made lame assertions to justify its prolonged confinement of hapless human beings. Of prolonging slavery, they said: "Imagine what chaos would ensue if four million people, ignorant and lacking in survival skills, were set loose upon the countryside." Similarly facile statements - made to play upon the public's own self-interests, and its fear of the confined - were laid at the feet of Native Americans, Japanese-Americans, and me. It has never mattered to the State that such assertions are without merit. What matters is that the State is vested with great power. The power to deny liberty is awesome.

What will it take to cease this endless assault upon precious liberty? First, it will take acknowledgement that such assaults have, and continue, to take place. A sickness must be realized before it can be cured. Then, it will take real people demanding that this aberrant nature be purged from our national psyche once, and for all.  

I was sentenced to parolable life in 1997. Explicit in that sentence was that if I served that time with good conduct, I would be eligible to go home in 2013. I went about serving my time with distinction. That was my plan. (What other plan is there for a serious man who needs to get home to his family?) Now, at the age of 66, I am in my 21st year of confinement, courtesy of America's sick tendency to defer freedom for as long as it possibly can. Again, there is no end in sight.

Today, we have the modern version of America's well-documented obsession with mass incarcerations. Over two million souls languish in America's prison - a quarter of all of the imprisoned people on Earth. There are even private prisons to complement the State's efforts. Yes, everyday Americans can profit, financially, from the imprisonment of their fellow Americans. (How sick is that? Out of the window goes any incentive to set men free once those men become inventory on the shelves.)

Americans are numbed to this nation's bent for mass incarcerations. They take solace in believing they will not become one of the confined. During slavery, whites were assured, by virtue of their race, theat they could not be enslaved. Likewise, whites - even blacks - were assured, when they saw Native Americans a being herded onto reservations. When the Japanese-Americans were rounded up for the internment camps, again it was race that saved everyone else from the same fate. 

Individuals manage to circumvent a sense of guilt for these mass imprisonings by casting the prospect of such guilt against their sense of relief that the same could not happen to them. As startling as this self-centeredness sounds, it is more astounding Americans' lackluster desire to redress this fundamental defect i its creed.  

I once was guilty. Then, I paid my debt to society. Now, I am owed my liberty - like the slaves were owed; like the Native Americans and Japenese-Americans were owed. 

Free me, and the many others like me who have served their time, and yet continue to be held in America's deep State. Let us go home. Then, let us all free America. Yes, this nation - guilty for so long of imprisoning innocents - must, and can be liberated from her compulsive need to confine. She, too, deserves a second chance.  

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