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August 2005

learning about others

August 19, 2005   

Some people, when they are told about other people’s plights or hurts, say, “What’s that got to do with me?” When you tell them about specific stereotypes/actions/words that hurt you, they say, “So what? Get over it.” Me, when someone tells me that they don’t like this or that or have been hurt by something or that there is a specific injustice that rankles them, I want to know what underlying reasons lead to this situation, why it bothers them, and what can be done. I love to find out about things and to expand my knowledge base of “the human condition”. I want to be sensitive to other people’s plights and to learn better how not to be a jerk and instead be a better contributing member of society.

This philanthropic view is the cover story for my blog-reading addiction. Heh.

Well, I’m only half kidding.

I’ve been reading Waiter Rant for an inside look at that lives of waitstaff. It’s given me a greater appreciation for people who work at restaurants, and I have internalized some tips to make sure I am not a jerky customer. I hate it when people feel like they can be rude to people and put them down because you happen to be paying them (or someone else) for something or another. It’s not like the person signed up to be your indentured servant.

I’ve also been reading Jon’s Jail Journal. The jail he was in before sentencing (he was in the interim jail for over two years) is in Arizona and sounds like a really frightening violation of human decency, especially as some of the people there had not yet been convicted yet and some had yet to be sentenced (after conviction). I vaguely remember reading about the tent jails before, but I have no idea where or when. There are some excerpts at The Guardian.

My dad doesn’t talk to anyone (that I know of) of how things were in jail and prison. I can’t imagine how it was for him, and I don’t know the conditions he was held in. I don’t know what his daily routine was. I don’t know anything about the place, except that told to me from the nursing and medical staff whom I spoke with on several occasions. His correctional officer also seemed like a decent person when I spoke to him, but what did/do I know about what really went on? I was told by a nurse that it was one of the nicer facilities, but the stories in “Jon”‘s journal shake me. My dad had gone through Vietnam as a young man. I don’t know what he went through. He never talked about that either. All the things he’s seen in his life that he doesn’t talk about… what is it doing to him? He’s never been a decent father, and he’s been a pretty crappy husband to my mom most of the years they’ve been married, but he’s still a human being and he’s still a person who’s been through a lot of senseless pain. Some people are just not good in certain roles, and as an adult, I can and have long since accepted that.

It’s stupidly ironic that I feel like I am learning about him only through reading about strangers and their stories.

The U.S. penal and justice system is broken. It needs to be fixed. We can cage people up and treat them like animals and pay out ridiculous amounts of tax dollars that could be going into health care or education, or we can address the real problems and try to find real answers. If I know what those are, I’ll let you know. :p There are people who should be locked up that aren’t. There are people who really genuinely need mental help but do not get it. There are people who don’t need to be doped up that are. The end result is that the system does not produce the results that we want to/are led to believe.

This post was brought to you by my Bleedin’ Liberal Heart ™.

ETA: Due to popular request [read: Because I remembered and felt like it], I bring you more “real life” blogs:

It’s weird that I’m not that interested in meeting people, yet I am still interested in learning more about the human experience and hearing about other people’s daily lives.