An explanation of sorts.

I feel I should explain a bit about my last blog post. Most of it was my way of dealing with grief. Then I tried to imagine what John's life had been like since I last saw him. When I thought of my own experiences during that time, I thought maybe I understood.

In prison, I was witness to the ease with which people hate, and how casually they do harm to one another. One cannot help but be affected by that. More than anything, it confused me. Finally, one day something clicked. See, occasionally the guards would come in and do something mean or hateful, for no reason. Like, say, ripping up correspondence from a loved one. It basically amounted to poking us with a stick. Maybe it was a method of control - a way of keeping us off-balance. Maybe they were just bored. But you could always tell who the new inmates were, because they would always ask the guards "why". The answer was so consistent, that I came to believe that it was actually a part of their training. Their response was always, "Because we can."

When you get down to it, that's really the only reason. Circumstance, or in some cases, authority, gives someone the opportunity, and some take it. There are always rationalizations and justifications later, of course. But while it's happening, it's a base, mindless thing. It's then that the differences between the good guys and the bad guys tend to evaporate.

It wasn't just a prison thing.  When I got out, I was apprehensive about how I might be welcomed back into society, so I decided to do a little experiment. On a number of different websites, I posted (anonymously, of course) the details of my crime and punishment, trying to get as big a cross-section of people as possible. The responses I got back were overwhelmingly negative. I expected that. I had, after all, broken the law. What I didn't expect was the venom contained in a significant percentage of those responses. Death threats, some quite creative, were most common. There were others who were too lazy to kill me themselves, so they requested that I do things to myself that were not only fatal, but physically impossible.

For months afterward, I was depressed. These were people who had jobs, drove cars, raised children? Why should I want to join those whose only claim to good citizenship was the ability to follow a few simple rules? I thought about finding a hole someplace to spend the rest of my days in.

Luckily, there are good people out there. I'm lucky enough to count some of them as friends, and all of them as family.. I still believe that most people are hard-working decent folks, just trying to do the best they can.  Am I ever wrong? Sometimes with a frequency that is downright spectacular. But if my only choices were to become part of the darkness, or be a victim of it, I'd choose the latter.

Of course, nominally, one should avoid both.

It's my hope that John was lucky enough to surround himself with enough people who cared.

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