"Frankl came away from Auschwitz convinced that there are two basic types of people: decent ones or indecent ones. Here's the interesting thing, decency and indecency do not fall along national political lines. There were decent Nazi guards just as there were indecent inmates." --Oliver Thomas (USA Today)
I'm not comparing this state penitentiary to a Nazi prison camp, but as I read this paragraph today in my newspaper I thought, "Couldn't have said it better myself."
I've been struggling a bit lately dealing with my anger when I come across an "indecent" personality. First of all, we all have our own perceptions of what defines "decent" along with "indecent." Some of my associates both in prison and out are most likely considered "indecent" by someone's moral standards. In fact, I think it's fair to say everyone on this planet has been thought of as indecent at one point in their life or another. But what is it that actually defines a decent or indecent person?
In the past I've mysteriously embraced a life of crime. I've done some things that most definitely had more negative effects than positive. I've run drugs and guns, stolen things and have sabotaged many would-be meaningful relationships in the name of drugs, alcohol and the instant gratification of selfish oblivion. I trashed excellent job offers, abandoned musical and artistic talents, not to mention a wonderfully "decent" family. Am I a decent person? I still think so.
I sit in a cell now 23 hours a day. My fate depends on my arch enemies - correctional officers. They bring me food, books, paper, pens and toilet paper. They bring me clean sheets and clothes. They walk me to a phone to call friends and family five times a week and to shower three times a week. Every time I leave my cell it's in handcuffs. I'm paying my debt. My "indecent" behavior has caught up with me.
I haven't felt the sun on my face going on seven months. I'm allowed two books and two newspapers/magazines in my cell at a time. I love to read. There's a hole in my wall, so sometimes I talk for hours with my neighbor. His name is Thumper. He's been incarcerated for five years and in all that time he's been visited only once. I'd say he's a "decent" enough guy. Some of the interests we share are in politics, history and exercising. We exercise a lot.
I thought it would be nice to choose a book and then both get a copy of it sent in. We planned to read during the day and have a discussion regarding what we read at night. Kind of like a book club. We chose an anchor of a book on the old British prime minister, Winston Churchill.
Since Thumper doesn't have much, if any, family support, I asked my family to send him his copy. I received my copy a few weeks ago and we've been awaiting the arrival of his. Today the property officer, a guy named Gonzales, came up to my cell and instantly began to play what I call "cops and robbers." He started ridiculously interrogating me about the book as if Winston Churchill had recently transformed into a bag of crystal meth. He asked why my family sent us both a copy. I told him it was none of his business. He stormed off, refusing to give Thumper his copy. No more book club. That, my friends, is what I call a prime example of an "indecent" person... to say the very least.