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A hopeful approach for the future of international relations.

Redirect teen rebellion towards idealism and self improvement.

Read excerpts from unpublished book: Science, Religion and the Search for God —Bridging the Gap.

Poems of society, the human condition, and spiritual discovery.

Our student activities and curriculum materials instill an environmental, cultural, and global perspective, and integrate various academic disciplines.

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Archives 2002:
Vol. 1, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Hope for the Future
Six Part Series on Science and Religion
First Three Parts of the Series on Leadership
Archives 2003:
Vol. 2, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Series on Leadership continued
Avoiding Dictatorship in a Free Society

Art and Politics
Living the Good Life
Teaching Teens
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Archives 2004:
Vol. 3, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Seven Part Series on Global Consciousness
Is "Liberal" a Dirty Word?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?
Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All

Archives 2005:
Vol. 4, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Standing up for Humanity
Unity in Diversity

Thought and Imagination
Imagination and Healing
Lessons of Katrina
Intelligent Design or Evolution

Archives 2006:
Vol. 5, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Human Programming and Conflict
Non-Violent Political Change
Sustainable Development
Legalizing Torture
Living Without an Enemy
"Fast Food" is really "Slow Food"


Related Articles about Responsibility, the Future and Consciousness:

Hope for the Future
Series on Leadership
Series on Global Consciousness
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?
Conflict, Harmony and Integrity
Human Programming and Conflict
Non-violent Political Change
Living Without an Enemy
Protecting Children: Words and Deeds

Related Poems:

Making Friends
The Sounds of an Empty Promise
Mama's Tears
Wake of Distaster
March Madness
Take Heart
Kabul Update



February, 2007
Vol. 6, Number

This Month's Article

Criminal Justice — Part 1
"Triumph of the Powerful Over the Weak"

At 2.1 million, the United States has the highest prison population in the world, the vast majority non-violent offenders. The criminal justice system disproportionately impacts communities of color. African-American males make up six percent of the total population, but account for 48 percent of the prison population. Eighty two percent more Latinos are incarcerated than whites…. While more than 95 percent of all offenders are released from prison, they face significant obstacles to finding work and housing and successfully returning to their communities. The lack of adequate rehabilitation and programs to facilitate reentry leads to recidivism and more crime.

—U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee

The United States considers itself an advanced and civilized country. We must therefore ask ourselves why we have so many people spending the best part of their life in prison. Is our society a breeding ground for crime as well as a society of opportunity? News programs show criminals spanning the social spectrum from the painful streets of forgotten neighborhoods to the boardrooms of multinational corporations to the council chambers of government. Are the motivations of street crime different from white-collar crime?

We have created a culture of crime, and a penal system that perpetuates it rather than solves it. Our society treats crime like a cancer for which we have no cure. Unlike cancer, however, it is human society that has created the environment in which it grows and human society that does not support solutions to the material and psychological desperation that causes people to commit offenses in the first place.

Crime and aggression in a culture are symptoms of social failure. Civil government was developed to protect and nurture its citizens and promote peace and security. Punishment is a primitive form of consequence for offenses. Those who have little faith in the human potential for transformation mainly use it.

Those who use it to humiliate and dominate others in the name of “justice” perpetuate injustice, and are the perpetrators of a culture wherein crime is a never-ending cycle. In our society, control is frequently valued above nurture and our legal system reflects that imbalance. The moral idea of “America” has been gradually replaced by the “morality” of the jungle where “might makes right”. Law enforcement and judicial systems have institutionalized cruelty.

Cruelty may take many forms. Less obvious than outright brutality and abuse, are the more subtly insidious forms of neglect, exclusion, injustice, or simply not meeting people’s needs. The aftermath of hurricane Katrina is an example of cold-hearted neglect, and the failure of government to meet the needs of its citizens. On the world stage, ethnic cleansing, sectarian hatred and violence, and wars with neighbors signify failure of governments to serve the ideals of civilization and culture. The common denominator of all cruelty is humiliation and dominance. These are so contrary to the rights of people for education, freedom and security.

A society that believes in its people and cares for them will provide opportunities for all to learn and to better themselves. If people cannot even meet their basic survival needs, how can we expect them to flourish and reach their goals? We don’t even provide them with the tools to learn from their mistakes. The main goals of education are based on an optimistic view that people may become contributing citizens when they see their role in society, and are given responsibilities that fit their ability. This is what makes them feel that they belong and have a stake in society. Criminals are created when they see that society neglects and rejects them. Many are victims of cruelty from an early age and nothing is done to make them feel otherwise. Social conventions keep putting them down and make them outcasts without any hope for the future.

Intimidating systems of government where fear has replaced justice have created apathetic, selfish and submissive populations. Some may argue that increased crime and threats have caused governments to behave that way in order to protect its citizens. However, a society where crime within and threat from others produce a sense of insecurity, must ask itself why it is a target. Perhaps a hostile social culture is a mirror of failed duties and values. Perhaps it is a reflection of a society’s own behavior.

A society guided by respect for people will produce an environment where the top priority is to provide the tools and opportunity for improvement. A society improves and becomes safer as the members improve and work for the betterment of others. More than tools and opportunities, the motivation to improve must also be present. This motivation is present where there is respect for all and a broad ethic of public service.

People who respect themselves and others would never be criminals. When people do a crime they must be given the opportunity for rehabilitation and they must be helped. Instead our “criminal justice” system brutalizes people and strips them of the very human dignity that would produce positive change in their lives and make them contributors to society.

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

—Franklin Roosevelt

Read: Criminal Justice Part 2 — "The Ethic of Custodianship"

© 2007 Richard Sidy


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Archives 2005
Volumn 4
January: "Standing up for Humanity"
February: "The Wake of Disaster" – a poem
March: "Unity in Diversity
April: "Life is Calling"
May: "Entertainment" – a poem
June: "Thought and Imagination" part 1
July: "Thought and Imagination" part 2
August: "Imagination and Healing"
September: "Malice or Neglect? – Lessons of Katrina"
October: "Protecting Children"
November: "Intelligent Design or Evolution?"
December: "Building with one hand, destroying with the other"
Archives 2006
Volumn 5

January: "Conflict, Harmony, and Integrity"
February: "Satyagraha or Soul-force and Political Change"
March: "I Know I'm Not Alone - Wisdom of Michael Franti"
April: "Human Programming and Conflict Part I"
May: "Human Programming and Conflict Part II"
June: "Soccer Diplomacy"
July: "Sustainable Development is Nature's Way
August: "Parallel Universes"
September: "The News is not New"
October: "Legalizing Torture"
November: "Living Without an Enemy"
December: "Fast Food is really Slow Food"

Archives 2007
Volumn 6

January: "State of Fear"
February: Criminal Justice - "The Powerful Over the Weak"
March: "Culture Shock: The Good Life and Survival"
April: "March Madness"
May: "No Child Left Behind" Leaves Many Teachers Behind
June: "Personal Ecology"
July: Criminal Justice - "The Ethic of Custodianship"
August: "Exploring the Mind - part 1"
September: "Exploring the Mind - part 2: The Poetic Mind
October: "How Much Pain Can We Stand?"
November: "When Languages Disappear"
December: "Is it Enough to be Tolerant?"

Archives 2008
Volumn 7

January: "Beyond Ideology: Politics of the Future "
February: "Beyond the Bush Years"
March: "The Imaginary Economy - Part I
April: "The Imaginary Economy - Part II
May: Questions from Prison
June: "iGods and Connectivity"
July: "Energy Independence"
August: "Tribalism and the 2008 Elections
September: "Guilt, Shame and U.S. Justice"
October: "Have We Been Willing Slaves?"
November: "Are We Ready for the Future?"
December: "Are we done learning from pain?"

Archives 2009
Volumn 8

January: "Awakening"
February: "When Sacrifice is no Sacrifice"
March: "The Good New Days"
April: "The Power of Metaphor"
May: "The Conflict of Mythologies"
June: "The Time is Right"
July: "The New Anarchy"
August: "The Art of Living"
September: "Outrage"
October: "Are Women Becoming More Unhappy?

November: "Effect of the manufacturing culture on the American Psyche"
December: Who are the Real Game Changers?

Archives 2010
Volumn 9

January: The Music of Place
February: Earthquakes and Other Awakenings
March: Sense of Place, Sense of Self, Sense of Humanity
April: Why Do People Serve?
May: Decentralizing Food and Energy
June: Beyond Reading and Writing — Ecological literacy
July: Organization or Organism?
August: Fear and Cynicism = “Inter-fear-ance”
September: Are we afraid of our "Better Angels?"
October: Choosing Our Battles
November: Meeting the Need
December: A Living Canvas

Diplomacy Help for Teens Science and Religion Poetry Archives
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