Not There Yet

Today’s chapter in #ReconciliationTX touches on one area that I am still struggling with – culpability.

Are some people just born ‘evil’? Or are we all products of our circumstances? Or more likely, a combination of the two? And if that is so, how do we handle issues like ‘punishment’?

For me, the rubber meets the road with this subject in my local park. It’s a small one, just a block-size island among a plethora of posh Victorian era homes. At the old house, Alan’s office looked out over it. It is where I go most days for my steps. It is also where I do lots of my litter picking, along with the beach, of course.

That’s when I see red – needles in the bushes. I think of all the dogs that walk there. And the toddlers from the nursery across a road.

Then I pause. And I remember that these human beings who are resorting to drugs are most often victims. Abused. Neglected. Undiagnosed dyslexia that teachers dismissed as stupid or lazy. And far too many neurodivergent or mental health challenges. They are the ones that have fallen through the cracks. Victims of modernity that measures success in dollar/pound/euro/yen/whatever signs. They do drugs to escape their pain.

But all around them are those ‘posh’ people. They are in pain too. Victims of the masks that were sometimes forced on them by their ‘station’ at birth. Or masks that they carefully crafted themselves – a visage of ‘success’ that failed to bring them happiness. They self-medicate too. With alcohol. With the latest gadgets, fashions, cars, bigger and better houses. Expensive holidays to get away from their ‘perfect’ lives. Things that are destroying the planet and their souls. And yes, some of them self-medicate with drugs too.

What makes one of those better or more acceptable than the other?

I have certainly self-medicated with food and sex. Now I walk that park trying to undo the side effects of my drug. Am I any better? What right do I have to stand in judgment of them? I take a deep breath. Remind myself that we are all just human beings, doing the best we can to survive, and living with our pain as well as our joy. You’d think – ah, she’s arrived, found some sense of compassion and understanding. Except this is a process that repeats every time I see someone make a drug deal in that park. Anger rather than understanding and compassion are my first reactions.

Today, there’s two broken humans locked in a glassroom. Both have lived lies. Both are undeniably broken and in pain. One in power. One in deep trouble.

“Fuck,” had become his new favorite word. There was something totally liberating about saying it. And sometimes, like now, there was just no other word that would do. This situation was definitely fuck-worthy.

Moments like this reminded him of his legal ethics course. The professor opened the first class with the statement, “The law is rarely just and never fair.” Until recently, J. T. had never understood why Jaycee, who struggled through ambiguity with every case they studied, had gotten an  ‘A’ while it had been his only ‘B.’ Other than that gym class in junior high, which was how he ended up in military school with Steve.

At least since the morning, he had first heard that girl’s name, life and the law had thrown him one curveball after another. He was struggling right now, as Jaycee had in that class, with the most challenging issue of them all – what was the right thing?

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