Paying Up

A number of years ago, I did 2 1/2 years for what the state deemed a "non-dangerous, non-repetitive" crime. Upon my release, I was somewhat apprehensive as to how I might be accepted back into society, if at all. While in, I had heard horror stories. Many of the guards considered recidivism to be a foregone conclusion.

So I did a sort of experiment. Trying to get as varied a segment of the population as I could, I posted the details of my crime and punishment on a number of different internet forums (anonymously, of course), and asked people what they thought. The responses I got back where overwhelmingly negative. I expected that. I had, after all, broken the law.

What I didn't expect, was the venom associated with many of the responses. Up to, and including some disturbingly creative death threats. Those unwilling to take time out of their busy days to kill me themselves, asked that I take matters into my own hands, suggesting methods that I'm relatively certain are physically impossible.

At first, I was horrified. These were people who owned homes? Drove cars? Had jobs? Raised children? Yet these same people openly fantasized about killing me.

After the initial shock wore off, I was depressed for months afterward. If this was the response to my relatively mild trespass against society, what chance did anyone else have?

Back in the days of sailing ships, if a member of the crew broke the rules, the punishment was usually swift and severe. But it rarely resulted in death. An able-bodied seaman was a valuable commodity. Once his forty lashes were done with, he was once again a member of the crew, with the same rights and responsibilities, and the incident was not mentioned again. His debt was paid.

Not so now. We live in a society that increasingly considers even it's best and brightest as inherently expendable. We don't forget, we don't forgive, and no matter what your skills, or how well you live your life from then on, the debt is never paid.

Because of this, there are certain things that are now forever beyond my reach. I'll never have a job that will allow me to buy a home, get decent medical care, or save for retirement. If I'm lucky, and strong enough, I'll be allowed to work until I die. There are many who think this is just. But what if I'm not strong enough, and my health doesn't hold out? Some future taxpayer will have to foot the bill for things that I could be doing now.

Of course by then, some senator may come up with some politically correct final solution that the masses will find palatable. If so, I will go to my end gladly. As I would not want to live in such a world.


Joe Pereira said...

I'd hazard a guess that you're head and shoulders above all those who have judged you.It appears that many people look down on others, for whatever minor defect, as a means of feeling better about themselves. If those same people weren't so dangerous I'd pity them

Michael Powers said...

Thanks, Joe. My situation is not unique. I wish it were. But at the rate this country sends people to prison, we're likely to end up with a great many indigent elderly people who have spent the whole of their working lives treading water.