Thursday, May 01, 2008
The hard yards
If life was like a box of crayons, you would probably find it much easier to choose between the right and the wrong. You would instantly be able to tell what you were getting when you picked up the crayon for your strokes of blue and yellow. But life is so rarely boxed into crayon colours.
So much of our media thrive on villains and heroes. The Bali Bombers are villains and the 9/11 Firefighters are heroes. As readers we want our stories simple and easy to understand. We don't want the full story, it would be too long to fit into its cover space and too opposing to our ideals.
Recently i was sent an email that asked me to sign a petition to keep two men in jail. The email detailed thing they did when they were 10 years old (they are now 25ish) that landed them in prison. The email told of the horrors that they committed and almost terrified me into believing that if these two men were released they would certainly come after me.
But who among us is the same person that they were when they were 10 years old? They are different men now.
If they are worse than they were at 10, whose fault is that? They were removed from their parents. They were brought up by the state, their lives were paid for by the public. If these boys were not rehabilitated, then perhaps the fault lies us for not providing them with an environment in which they would be able to grow into functioning members of society.
If we have provided these things, why would we condemn them for life over the things they did as a child?
It is easy for us to condemn the criminals for their crimes without looking at the circumstances that brought them to that place. It is easy for us to denounce the worse among us as "unfit for life" without doing the hard yards to help make them fit for life.
The fix for society is not a quick one. Nor is it one size fits all. It involves a lot less assumptions and a lot more care.