For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
In my 83 years, I’ve never seen so much anger. The President of the United States thinks it’s cool to say, “I’d like to punch him in the face.” His supporters, then, think it’s cool to shout, “Lock her up.” For those who dislike the President and despise his supporters, it’s now OK to mouth strong words of hatred and opposition. All of this trickles down. Unparalleled road rage. Even at the level of childhood, kids hear this and feel encouraged to bully others.
I’m thinking of all this anger today as I try to respond to a young man in prison. Daniel is only 26 years of age, but he’s an angry, bitter human being. Granted he committed a terrible crime, and the families and friends of the victims will never be the same.
Now, his demons don’t stop pestering him. Well, this state has crushed me mercilessly for 9 years. My attorney has now abandoned me, and I see a long hopeless road before me. I have existence problems. My only option now is to soon do a media interview. You were a reporter, so you know hate and negativity sell "honest" news. So, how would I interview? Do I manufacture negativity, or defend myself? I stand a better chance of having my sentence reduced by being mean, instead of being who I truly am at heart.
My first job was and is to correct the record. Hate and negativity do not “sell” news. Granted, it’s in the news. That’s because right now the world is full of it. But I was a reporter, a darn good one, and my goal was to get above the gory and the bloody, the mean and the bitter. I read excellent work by competent journalists every day that is not focused on hate and negativity.
A huge task will be to convince Daniel that his life and outlook can still change. Being mean will get him nowhere. It took my friend Maurice Carter many years to see that. The old way, the old attitudes, weren't working. I related to Daniel how Rubin Hurricane Carter told me about his rage over being wrongly convicted. He said that he looked in an old, cracked, piece of a mirror in prison one day and saw a face that he didn’t even recognize. He vowed that that person would no longer exist. Rubin became one of the nicest, kindest human beings one could ever meet.
Daniel is going to be a challenge, but I’m encouraged by the words of Father Greg Boyle:“You stand with the belligerent, the surly, and the badly behaved until bad behavior is recognized for the language it is: the vocabulary of the deeply wounded and of those whose burdens are more than they can bear.”
Help me, Lord.
Help Daniel, too.
Help Daniel, too.