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“He will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.” – Plato

After reading just the first sentence of Plato’s’ “the Allegory of the Cave” I was interested. As someone who is currently immersed in a long, hard campaign of self-improvement, words like enlightened or unenlightened automatically catch my eye. However, Plato doesn’t’ make it easy. After three pages I was doubting whether I had the mental fortitude to finish the story. I wonder if this is because I was coming out of the darkness and entering into the light. The crux of Plato’s story is the battle between light and darkness and where we stand in it. As a result of the choices I have made in my life I have a unique viewpoint on this struggle, and have had a lot of time for self-reflection. Plato’s opinions and beliefs as expressed so poignantly match the beliefs that I have come to call my own.

The first time I read the story I struggled and it wasn’t until I reached the end that I gained any understanding of what Plato meant to say. At this time in my life I was not read to “leave the darkness and comfort of the cave.” I walked away, literally and figuratively from the story and what it represented. When Professor Vail assigned “the Allegory of the Cave” for reading I did not immediately remember that I had already read it. However, upon reading Plato’s words I felt the same confusion that assailed me on the first reading. Once I realized the cave and the darkness were just analogies I was able to break the story down into manageable bite-sized hunks. My first reading of the “Allegory of the Cave” left me with a headache, partly because of the weightiness of the ideas expressed and partly because of the avalanche of memories that bombarded me with examples of my part in the spread of “darkness.” I almost put the book down, but refrained for several reasons. Once reason is that a very good friend of mine had asked if I wanted to discuss it the next morning. This friend and I have always had open and often brutally honest conversations with each other, so I knew that I could express to him my confusion, doubts and questions. It also helped that I have been working hard to be the best man that I can be and that I am not the same person who read and ran from the light the first time. So, I picked up the book again and took another step away from the darkness.

There were certain points that Plato “illuminated” that play o0ver and over again in my mind. The first point is how we all start out in the darkness (ignorance and the evils that it brings) and become so accustomed to it that it becomes our world. We are able to navigate it and find ourselves so comfortable in the darkness tat, when we are exposed to something new, i.e. knowledge and education in the form of light, it is extremely uncomfortable. In fact, it hurts because in the harsh light of reality we are forced to confront ourselves. In the dark we don’t see the results of our actions; the pain of our victims and loved ones. In fact, we are so used to the dark that we don’t even realize that what we are seeing and experiencing is not real. For all intents and purposes our lives are lies. We do not recognize this because who wants to admit being trapped in a lie. Instead, we, like Plato says, convince ourselves that “the truth is literally nothing but the shadows of the images.” When any of us are liberated from this shadow existence and shown the light, the first glimpse of this light will hurt our eyes, and it will be easier for us to turn back to the shadows than to continue to face this new pain. “When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled and he will not be able to see anything at all of 3hat are now called realities.” I have experience this first hand. In fact, it still happens to me every time I re-adjust my thinking, values and goals. I am constantly running into situations where my old criminal mentality is exposed as completely at odds with how the average citizen thinks. These moments result in pain and embarrassment for all involved. Thankfully these situations happen less and less often as I continue my journey back from the darkness of the criminal world and into the light of civilization.

“And when he remembers his old habituation and the wisdom o the den and his fellow prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change and pity them? Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.”

Now that I am journeying towards the light, I have found that I also agree with Plato when he says, “my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all and is see only with an effort and when seen that this is the power upon which he would act rationally either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.” Or, as one of my older friends told me, “If you know better than you have to show better.” This is the most challenging aspect of gaining knowledge, and why everybody that knows me will say I am smart, but now many will say I am wise. Gaining knowledge for the simple sake of learning is a waste of time. I now have to apply what I have learned.

As I am,

Prince

prince

It seems like people always want to study me. Try an figure out what makes me tick. The latest expedition has been into my mind. Someone in the department of corrections has unrealistically decided to send me through a nine – month long prison rehab program, just to find out why I drink….

So far they have told me that I have no control over my drinking, that it has put me in prison five –  times, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. That I have no manners, or morals, a lousy work ethic, have ruined all of my relationships, nobody trusts me, I’m apparently now a drug addict, and have an extensive arrest record for stealing. You wouldn’t imagine how shocked I was to find out what a piece of shit these people say I am. All of my life I’d been under the assumption that I’ve been the most solid person I know. Glad I came to this rehab, there’s no way that I can ever live with myself now.

In hind – sight, I can see all of the tell – tale negative aspects of my life that everyone around me must have seen all the while. Such as: how  I don’t lie, I work 12 – k hrs. a day and have since I was fourteen – years old, I drop everything to help a friend at anytime, I’m given the keys to million dollar houses to check on them while the owners are away, I am the only courteous person in my line of work in my area, I respect all elders as they should be, I help tons of family – friends – neighbors our with loans or cash, I have never treated women or children badly, I don’t steal from friends or family, I do all I can to keep punks and low – lifes and druggies out of my community, I respect my parents regardless of personal feelings, and I like cats.

I can see that all of this would be misleading to a trained observer that has spent years in school… I could have told them what I found out in 3 – 5 years of one on one counseling, I don’t have an addictive personality. That I’m addicted to nothing but living and breathing. I do have a drinking problem and have alcoholic tenancies when I remain drunk for long periods, all by choice, I drink because I don’t care, about me, or anything else, at times. I am totally depressed, all of the time. If I had a good woman, that I could trust, then I would have a reason to care, but I don’t. So, I could have saved them the eighty – grand and told them, that drinking doesn’t make me break the law, ever, and never has. The reason that I do illegal things is very simple. I simply don’t fucking care. No therapy needed. Anyone got a spare woman kicking around… That’s all of the therapy that I need. Someone to share my life with.

Lately my family and friends have been dropping like flies

Too often it seems that another of my own meet their demise

I am clearly aware that ones’ life can never be endless

though I now feel too young to be left lonely and friendless

I sometimes think of friends who have made their amends

I secretly wish for a seat at my own funeral just to see who attends

when it’s my time to go I’ll leave instructions for a traditional Irish wake

The mixture of hate and remorse on the faces a pleasantly bitter pill to take

As yet it is too soon to go with my mortality beginning to show

being humans in middle age we simply fear that which we do not know

so to those who were thoughtless enough not to portend their own pass

I’ll see you again one day old friends but until then you can kiss my ass.

It all started in the late 1980’s when we found the ozone full of holes,

no longer a scientist fantasy global warming had begun,

by the year 2010 the ice caps were melting for lack of cold,

the atmosphere was letting in more ultraviolet rays from the sun,

sleeping in the melting ice was a virus hat had been dead millions of years,

it began to thrive in the air and light searching for a host,

in the cities the virus swept infecting us with disease and fear,

no one could find a cure, the dead stretched from coast to coast,

in a little over a year, the world lost half it’s population,

some of us were inexplicably immune to the Millennium Virus,

then as fast as the virus has come, it disappeared into speculation,

the big cities are like ghost towns, no longer the money to save us,

all humanities big hopes and dreams brought down by an ancient microbe,

but we will live on and rebuild though we will never be the same,

we shouldn’t have let the precious environment around us erode,

maybe this is natures way of cleansing to start again…

Animals in motion, kids behaving like apes

all around us the devolution of man you can’t escape

they howl in the hallways, they shit where they eat

we destroy the life around us so we don’t have to compete

humans are no longer evolving, stopped dead in our tracks

in fact some are regressing, look at all the throw backs

you are numb now as a Neanderthal man

it’s a wonder that you even have an opposing thumb on your hand

swinging from the tree, the caveman sells insurance

humanities demise is now a calm assurance

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Political Prisoners

Welcome to the blog from inmates of Maine's jails and prisons.

In collaboration with the Holistic Recovery Project, the Political Prisoners Blog provides a prisoner's view into what's happening at Maine's correctional facilities.

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