Empathy and Compassion From the Lepers of Society.

It is a common idea for Americans to feel that they are a very compassionate society. In some individual cases this is true, but for the most part, Americans are very bigoted. Many of the religious organizations that feel that their religion is better than others and that anyone who doesn’t participate in their specific religion is condemned to a fiery existence in the afterlife and to be shunned in this life due to the bigotry and distrust based on ethnic, national origins as well as other criteria.

I believe the lepers in a society have a better understanding of empathy and compassion than the rest of any society. Perhaps it is time for all Americans to set aside their distrust and thirst for revenge (what Americans call justice), and actually walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, or lack of them. This is especially true of our lawmakers, who, without any regard for our Constitution and Bill of Rights that was put in place with the primary purpose to protect the individual’s rights to life liberty and happiness. These so-called protectors of the Constitution have passed many laws further degrading disfavored groups of American citizens. They have set rules and regulations in place in an attempt to banish these disfavored groups. They seem to revel in making segments of our society feel sad, ashamed, hopeless, and alone, while all the time saying that they are doing this to protect other segments for the greater good of society. While at the same time friends and family members, including the children of whatever disfavored groups the legislators have chosen to attack ruthlessly, suffer severely, and yet the lawmakers and the vindictive people they choose to listen to have done nothing to protect the innocents within the disfavored groups.

I want to share with you some information that came out of Texas voices , a group that advocates for the rights of the pariah of society.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a call from a young lady who had just been released from prison after serving 4 years flat. This person served her entire sentence so she is not on any type of supervision other than registration. Although we cannot help everyone who calls or writes, I felt really sorry for this lady. Her family disowned her- she had no one to call- no money- no clothing- no food-absolutely nothing. Her few belongings were stolen the day after she was released. She did have the phone number to the brother of an inmate she knew in prison and he is letting her stay at his place until she can get back on her feet. Unfortunately, he lives pay-check to pay-check (if even that) and apparently, there was not much to eat. She sounded lost, afraid, and helpless and my heart just broke for her. I wonder how many others leave the prisons with nowhere to go and no one to help them.

I called a member of our group as this lady had 7 days to register. She is new to Dallas- no bus fare, no idea how or where to register- no birth certificate- no state ID- only a TDCJ offender ID. He took her to the registration office in Dallas but they would not let her register. They said they needed something with her address on it- a rent receipt, an electric bill, or something. They gave her 9 more days. Our group member continues to work with her to get the registration done.

I called another member and asked for help for this young woman. She took her to Walmart and bought her some food, personal hygiene items, shoes, clothing, etc. people like her are a blessing!
A member took this young woman to the Dallas support group on Tuesday. She enjoyed meeting everyone and says she does not feel so alone anymore. She has a long way to go and a tough hill to climb.

In the second story from the Texas group:

Prayers going out to our Dallas member **** ******   (**** was the lady who helped manage the food/drinks at our Dallas Conference last February). She has one son in prison and her other son had a massive heart attack last week. He is in intensive care in an Austin hospital so She is staying in Austin right now. Her son is a truck driver so two members of our group pitched in to help by picking up his truck and parking it at a safe location until further arrangements are made.

Moral of the stories: Our Texas Voices members are awesome at helping others!

Perhaps if the rest of American society could learn to look past their bigotry and became empathetic and have compassion for another human beings this country could grow into something that would truly inspire others throughout the world.

1 comment for “Empathy and Compassion From the Lepers of Society.

  1. May 28, 2014 at 6:09 am

    The leper gave rise to an economy of exclusion and was perhaps a necessary step in the development of the model that grew out of the Black Death that struck Europe. The plague itself gave rise to a new paradigm: the disciplinary object, that would be further developed throughout the industrial revolution. The two forms are absolutely complementary, but exclusion is difficult to maintain on several grounds. This is an important point that is often missed when people frame sex offenders as “lepers.” The discussion must become more sophisticated, because the State is increasing becoming more sophisticated driven by the needs of globalization and modern capitalism.

    As an example, Hitler understood that one of the reasons Germany lost WW I was because the Allies had a propaganda machine. In WW II Hitler made sure that their propaganda machine was as good, or better than, the Allies. Noam Chomsky describes how from WW II on, this form of control was developed into a more sophisticated process. The book focused on the function of the media during the Vietnam War, and I believe we have taken the process even further to into the present. Should I mention the NSA’s use of social media and the internet as a sieve through which to spy. Our media and social interconnections support and are supported by our power, are synonymous with that amorphous commodity.

    The Iraq war saw the inclusion of the media as a dimension of the theater of war and not just another tool. Media was integrated into the strategic and tactical decisions at levels never seen before. There was in particular the embedding of media in battle units to control the story.

    Continuing with the social exclusion of the leper. There is no longer the need with surveillance and disciplinary objects to segregate the “leper” from society, but they are hyper-individualized and exiled within the midst of the society they live. The plague created a an intensification of power by segregating and identifying the family units within a town, accounting for each individual, and labeling them within the community. Before the individual moved with a sort of anonymity within the State, after the plague there was a new model of segmentation, partitioning and most importantly control and confinement.

    By the beginning of the industrial revolution leprosy was less common and the colonies outside the cities and towns were disappearing. The model of surveillance was being refined of these practices as human capital became the critical linchpin of the new economy. Immigration and emigration were closely monitored as wages drove workers from one country to another. The refinement was practiced institutionally within the medical clinic, barracks of the military, the schools, prisons, and asylums. The constitution of the “science” of psychiatry and the management of the abnormal was solidified within the Courts and codified within the Asylum. Krafft-Ebing was sedimenting the idea of sex as pervasion, while at the same time shutting down Freud’s discourse on incest.

    I make these distinctions because the “leper” is a coarse and unsophisticated method of control. From St. Augustine on we see philosophically and morally a transformation of the self: individualization and a distancing of society from a collectivist sense. So across all these dimensions, historically what we are observing, is individualization and surveillance, coupled with mass incarceration and confinement.

    Sex offenders in some States are required to allow the Sate to use their cell phones as GPS tracking devices. So the sinister nature of these changes is that to exile a whole population of offenders can be difficult socially, and practically impossible. But to hyper-individualize the citizen and identify, segment, and create infinite points of application of State power should be concerning to anybody.

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