All By Myself

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Thank you to everyone who has been so kind as to reach out and offer well wishes for my surgery and recovery. I think full recovery is going to take awhile but I am moving around the house on a scooter and am sitting here with my feet up on the scooter as I type. Awkward but you gotta do what you gotta do, right? Anyway, it was very thoughtful and thank you everyone.

This week, I received an email from David Clohessy regarding anyone who has been abused as an adult in New Jersey. There is an open civil window there for anyone who was abused at any age by anyone at anytime. So think about that and spread the word to those in New Jersey who you may know.

So, as you may be thinking, this past week has kind of been a mish mash of things. I’ve been watching TV for one. A lot of TV. Too much TV. And sleeping.

One interesting show I did watch was a documentary on prison life….what to do if you get arrested, what are your odds of getting out if you are unjustly accused, how to survive if you are behind bars…..things like that. This is not to hate on the justice system, but to make people more aware of the system. Because as we well know, systems can fail.

Yes, you can be accused of a crime for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In fact, they estimate that up to 100,000 people in prisons today are innocent. In the documentary, one young man found his mother at home after she had been attacked, was unable to go to the hospital to be with her, instead was taken into custody as a suspect and spent many years behind bars before the actual person who killed his mom was found and he was released.

I am not an expert with legal stuff, but they said if arrested, ask if you are being held, if not, get out of there. If you are being held, get a lawyer and speak to nobody else.

You have a better chance making it out of jail if you get out on bail and can show up to court wearing regular clothes. Innocent or not, you will most likely have to plead guilty and take a deal.

If you end up behind bars, be prepared to fight on your first day. Even if you can’t beat your opponent, it shows you aren’t an easy target.

It’s not me saying this. The documentary was done by former prison inmates. They said, not surprisingly, that the reason why there are so many mistakes and why you don’t want to plead innocent, is because there is just the easier way of doing things that people are used to and sometimes you get new investigators that feel they need to solve a crime. You know, you depend on the honesty and the kindness of the system, but people are people and mistakes happen and people want to get home to dinner and such. And nobody wants more paperwork.

Also, people….that’s you and me and the average person on the street, tend to see an authority figure….and they figure they know what they are doing and they don’t question them.

This propensity for obeying authority figures, well there is an actual name for it and studies done on it and in 1963, a study was done by a man who wanted to know how people could have gone along with the Nazi’s. Because one man or woman can have an evil thought, but in order to convince others to carry out their plans of destruction, the person with the plan would have to get other people to go along with things they might find distasteful and inhumane and immoral.

First of all, what they found was that if someone can distance themselves from a “task” and convince themselves that they are only doing what they are being told, then they themselves are not actually doing what it is they are doing….such as torturing or killing people. Such as if a boss told you there would be a raise in it for you if you threw away a co-worker’s lunch. And you were doing it for your boss because he/she asked you to do it. So no sin on your part, right?

Then they did an experiment where they paid people to shock other people who they could not see. They could hear the person, and they could hear them say “ouch” for instance, but they could not see them. And each time a shock was administered, the person in the white coat leading the experiment would tell the person being paid to do the shocking to increase the voltage but a bit to where it was apparent they were administering shocks that could do some serious harm to another person.

If you have heard of this experiment, you may have heard that the subjects coldly went ahead and did what they were told despite the poor receiver crying out in pain and pleading for them to stop. But I read that this is not really so. Most people did feel uncomfortable going ahead and hurting someone. But….because a perceived authority figure was telling them it was okay to proceed, less than half of those people actually stopped and refused to continue.

The people who continued on to “knowingly” hurt or possibly kill another human being, did so because they felt “who am I to argue with this person?” “It’s uncomfortable to say no.” “They must know better than me.”

And because this experiment was done back in 1963, people thought that in today’s society, we would now be much more enlightened and much more willing to speak up.

Guess what? Results were pretty much the same today as they were in 1963. Something to think about.

By the way, nobody was actually being shocked or hurt in any way. That was not part of the experiment.

So, how can we prevent ourselves from becoming like the….approximately 65% of the people who did what they were told because an authority person told them to do it? That’s part of what our healing is about, isn’t it? We have been there.

We have to do the same things we would do when we are around a person or any situation that makes us uncomfortable. Become aware of our feelings. Respect our feelings. Respect authority in as far as they treat their position with respect and treat others with respect.

In back of my mom’s house growing up there was a seminary. Lots and lots of land. We played baseball, rode our bikes, played tennis, had forts, picked flowers, walked our dogs, and just hung out back there. And then the diocese sold the building and the land to the state.

And for many years, people were still able to do what they wanted to do out there as long as they respected that the land belonged to a police training academy and they did not interfere with that. And they built a pool and allowed anyone who wanted to use the pool. And things were okay.

Until a couple of years ago when all of a sudden, things changed. The land belongs to the state, not the neighbors, but there was kind of a handshake agreement for a long time. Then the state said “We are going to change things”. But they told no one until the plans were well underway. There was protest. I was there. I wrote to the newspaper to protest the location of the new buildings and how it was done undercover so nobody would have much time between finding out and the actual contruction.

It changed nothing but we had our say.

Now all of a sudden, they held a picnic for the neighborhood so that everyone could come and submit their ideas for the naming of the new park. Nobody was asked about the park. The idea was set in stone. But they made the people feel included. My mom thought that was nice. They were looking for donations as well.

I don’t feel as warm and fuzzy about it as my mom does. She has already had to clean up around the area in the back of her house from where people have dropped food wrappers, bottles, and even used the area as a private toilet spot.

That was just from people using the pool. I’m not liking the feeling about this. I’m feeling that they are allotting an area for people to recreate in while also opening it up to the public and making it an official park. I’m hoping they will be patrolling this area because putting a park in the back of people’s houses…..could be creating a problem area as well as a fun spot.

The uneasy feeling I’m getting is more about the idea that yet another change is being made. Paving paradise to literally put up a parking lot (on one side of the field). Will this “progress” continue to encourage more people to hang out in the back of a once quiet neighborhood….leaving McDonald’s wrappers, beer bottles, used condoms and whatever else at the back of people’s fences?

Should I quiet my anxieties? Tell myself I can’t fight city hall? My mom told me that I am being “bitter” and that it’s not my problem. And she may be right.

Maybe it’s not the park so much as…..yesterday it was new buildings and a parking lot, today it is a new park…..what is going to happen tomorrow right in back of my mom’s house? Perhaps a mini-mart?

Again, so little we have control over. Maybe the park is just a metaphor in my life for so many things that change and take away the beauty of what once was.

Maybe it’s just me trying to stop the world from moving so fast and from being so crazy and scary. Maybe we are so used to not being able to control so much that we forget about what we can. As my friend reminded me…..a case of “learned helplessness”. We forget that our chains have been removed and that we can walk….but have been chained so long we forget how to walk on our own.

More about that another time. Be good. Enjoy your week.

I actually had a set-back today. Had some meds that did not agree with me. Whoa…. but I’m back. Carry on folks.

3 thoughts on “All By Myself

  1. Although I was not exactly aware of it at the time, I can recognize how my seeing the abusive priest as an authority figure played into his scheme of grooming and manipulation.

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  2. I’ve been arrested three times, 2000-2003, all for drug possession. In each instance, I did not resist arrest and I complied with all the policepersons’ instructions. I cooperated fully and I didn’t mouth off or disrespect any law enforcement personal. In turn, they treated me respectfully. The female cop, without my asking, loosened the handcuffs on me. Attitude is everything.

    My attitude, on a daily basis or in the present moment can carry me a long way or it could derail me.
    I have a choice when it comes to my attitude.

    One last note about being arrested. I believe there are out-of-control and prejudiced law enforcement personal who take advantage of their authority. I understand how unfair it is when a non-white person is arrested and their “reward” for not resisting and cooperating could result in a bloody face or death.

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