Correctional Facility

Correctional facility: (n) a prison, especially for long-term confinement.

I think it’s safe to say that a plurality, if not a majority, of people think about prisons just about as much as they do the city dump or changing the batteries in their smoke detectors.

It’s not that we’re uncaring. It’s just that sometimes we are at such a loss as to know what to do that rather than taunting ourselves with the frustration of considering something, we pretend it vanished into thin air. (Kind of like when you pick your nose and pull one of those crusty funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
things out and rub it between your fingers until there’s no further evidence…)

Early on in my career in music and the arts, our musical group was invited to come and perform at the State Prison. I was traveling with two girls, and most folks thought it was a very bad idea for us to go to such a dangerous and potentially violent arena.

But if you think about it, as long as you’re not sleeping in, a prison is one of the safest places on earth. Everyone is restrained, threatened and guarded. (Perhaps we should consider this profile for Washington, D. C.  I digress.)

We did not take the gig because we wanted to bring hope or good cheer to the prisoners. No—it was because we were just starting out, and anyone who wanted us to play was our next best opportunity. (After all, you get tired of performing at nursing homes or church pot luck dinners.)

We arrived at the prison and discovered that the entire population was not invited to the concert. Matter of fact, only 150 inmates would be present—these being members of a Bible study held twice a week in the rec hall.

Well, I was young and impetuous, so I objected. I said that if I’d wanted to come and play my music for a bunch of Christians, I could have gone down to the Baptist Church, which “may or may not have just as many felons.”

Both the warden and chaplain were patient with me. They realized that I was immature and did not understand that I was carrying along with me two delicious “human treats,” which these men had not partaken of in some time.

They explained that even though they could protect the girls in our group from attack, they certainly could not shelter them from the trauma of being accosted with foul language.

I grumbled.

Well, we did our first show in front of the Bible Club, and it went so well that the warden asked me if we would do another show in front of about 200 of the inmates who were presently on “good behavior status.”

I immediately agreed.

Boy—did I learn a lesson. If those 200 prisoners were the “good behavior boys,” I shudder to think what would have happened if they had released the lions on us young Christians.

It was loud, overbearing, and it was difficult to get the inmates quiet enough to listen to the music—and only when the beat reached a certain level of intensity did they clap their hands and participate in the event.

Afterwards I felt humbled. I told the warden and the chaplain that I was sorry for being such a jerk.

They corrected me. The warden said, “Don’t you ever give up on the idea of trying to help someone—especially if it looks hopeless.”

I nearly cried.

Even though there’s a reason they call them correctional facilities—because most of the time, correction is the name of the game instead of rehabilitation—it is not our right to ever give up on those that God decided to create in His image.


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Beheld

Beheld: (v) past tense of behold: to see, look upon or gaze at

Dictionary B

You will always find plenty of what you’re really looking for.

Once you set your mind to believe that the world is filled with a certain substance or the absence of a precious virtue, you will convince yourself that your notions and convictions are accurate.

You will behold exactly what you want to see and then you will go off and proclaim what you beheld.

  • The racist always finds examples of stupidity among those he deems inferior.
  • The pessimist never lacks evidence that his or her philosophy is well-grounded.
  • The misogynist is never lacking a dumb blond joke.
  • And the angry feminist can tell you story after story about the abusive results of testosterone-driven maniacs.

There’s an old saying: to the pure all things are pure and to those who are defiled, everything is defiled.

It’s not an issue of optimism. Life is more or less like the zoo–even though the park offers snakes, lions, tigers, elephants and bears, if your favorite is the monkeys, you don’t ever have to encounter the other creatures.

Some people would call this ignorance.

I would disagree.

I would call it bliss.

 

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Aggression

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAggression: (n.) hostile or violent behavior or attitudes toward another; readiness to attack or confront: e.g. his chin was jutting with aggression

Human beings are lions.

It’s the truth. Even though some folks portray themselves as lambs, it’s a little shocking when later on they sink their teeth into you.

The true journey of life is not about denying the lion and the passion you have for what you want, but instead, tempering it with the mercy to do it fairly and granting license to others to pursue their dreams.

I think the only aggression that exists in life is when we pretend to be passive and end up being mean-spirited.

I will be honest with you. I know what I want. I am not in denial. I’m not trying to hide it behind noble gestures or religious conviction. My only responsibility is to make sure I am candid with you about my desires and don’t pretend to be flexible where I am not and willing where I am resistant.

The greatest danger in life is to be a liar–and probably one of the worst lies is telling people that you don’t really care one way or the other.

Even though the dictionary portrays aggression as a violent act, passivity can be equally as devastating, if not disabling.

When I know someone is aggressive, I am fully aware of their intentions and can adjust my involvement based on that conclusion. But when they disguise their motives, they leave me vulnerable, without allowing me the opportunity to choose to receive their ideas on my own.

After all, can there be anything more dastardly than the statement, “we hate the sin but we love the sinner” or “I just want you to be happy, and I know the only way you’ll be happy is if you do … “

I am an aggressive fellow when it comes to my own life and passive when it comes to yours–and where that is not true is exactly where I need to work … every day of my life.

Africa

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

 

Africa: the second-largest continent, a southward projection of the Old World land mass divided roughly in half by the equator and surrounded by sea except where the Isthmus of Suez joins it to Asia.

I am shocked.

I sat down to write a clever essay on today’s word, Africa. when I dug into my Middle-America, middle-class, middle-intelligent and middle-conscience mind,  all I was able to conjure were images which I must be honest and tell you, seem quite racist.

Because when I think of Africa, I think of missionaries, cannibals, lions, monkeys, tribal rituals, Apartheid, jungles, Serengeti, antelopes being chased and killed, and people with black skin talking with extremely articulate British accents.

I thought about trying to come up with something different, pretending that I am cultured and aware of modern Africa and the progress the people have made. Or tip my hat to the notion that Africa is the “mother land of the whole human race,” but I realized it would be phony, and I would just be another American trying to appear that I am free of prejudice, when the truth is that, contrary to that fact, the continent reminds me of Tarzan and Jane.

I do not think we become better people by hiding our iniquity.

I do not think that I can fool you into believing I am a cosmopolitan world traveler who is free of my Central Ohio upbringing, and still walk away with a pure soul.

Here’s what I WILL say about Africa: most of what I learned as a child about this magnificent continent had something to do with either the zoo or the Zulu.

No one took the time to teach me anything else.

So even though I am grown and people insist that I’m set in my ways, I am unsettled enough to accept this meager representation of a great history and people. So I apologize for my lacking by trying to increase. Now that I have been alerted to my limitation, I will attempt to expand my borders.

We will never know what Africa could truly be today because it was invaded, attacked and robbed of its citizenry by white people who thought they were better.

I am an ancestor of such folk. For this I apologize.

But the best way I can express my contrition is by continuing to learn instead of assume.

 

Adjudicate

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Adjudicate: (v) make a formal judgment or decision about a dispute

Courts freak me out.

I suppose there are very few people, except lawyers who make $750 an hour, who find them appealing. I guess a judge might enjoy the atmosphere, since he or she gets to wear the robes. But if you’re not making the bucks or not getting to judge, that particular arena can seem like the Coliseum in Rome on a lions-chomping-Christians mid-afternoon.

I sometimes think about the fact that even though I am a law-abiding citizen, toeing the line and trying to be faithful to my responsibilities and as honest as I can possibly be, I do realize that if someone had a vendetta against me, they could probably dig up something which could be misconstrued as criminal.

Isn’t that weird?

Sometimes in life, it’s not the piss in the pot that gets you in trouble, but rather, who you piss off.

About seventeen years ago, I took three children into my home. They were going through a rough time with their father, who certainly had some difficulties and struggles, and was not treating them up to par. I thought I was being generous. Damn–I thought I was being Christian. I thought I was helping a lady out, who was being abused, and her children, who were being somewhat neglected.

But this fellow took the legal system and used it against me, making up stories and twisting situations to get those in authority to adjudicate against me, forcing me into a courtroom to explain my actions.

As his lawyer sat in that room accusing me of everything except the Kennedy assassination, I realized how fragile we all are, and how we should never become so arrogant as to believe that our actions could not possibly be viewed as questionable.

So even though this gentleman was proven to be a charlatan, I still had to go through a grilling process which made me empathetic to a two-inch sirloin steak.

So what is my point?

None, really.

It’s just that legalities are filled with so much legalism that no one could ever escape if the law was determined to get them.

That’s why I tip my hat to policemen, stay away from downtown areas where there are lions sitting next to lots of steps in front of courtrooms, and I try to keep all of my disagreements simple, discussed and resolved.

Because if I ever started being adjudicated … I don’t know how well I’d hold up.

 

Adder

Words from Dic(tionary)

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Adder: (n.) a small venomous Eurasian snake that has a dark zigzag pattern on its back and bears live young. Also called VIPER.

I just think it’s rather weird.

I am pretty sure that we are taught–or maybe a stalwart portion of our culture is instructed–that most people are deathly afraid of snakes. Even folks who will pick up a cockroach or fiddle around with a praying mantis will usually shirk at the possibility of handling an adder.

Don’t you think that’s curious? I suppose if there was a nine-month-old baby crawling along, the little tyke might go over and try to pull on the tail of the reptile, but I’m not quite positive THAT’S true. We seem to have some sort of innate dislike for snakes.

Does it have anything to do with some of the spiritual tales told in holy books? Is it just the way they look, as they slither from side to side?

I’m not sure.

But even when I see them in the zoo, which is often in a rather dark environment, I don’t really desire to stay too long, peering at them, especially if they’re moving behind the glass. Certainly there is a small handful of human souls who are in charge of taking care of these creatures, who have developed the ability to come across as functional, if not fearless.

But there is something mystifying. It seems that the more prehistoric a creature appears, the more frightening it is to us. I guess we’re more accustomed to those specimens which have evolved in our span of time.

It’s not that I’m saying that lions, tigers and bears are not equally as intimidating–it’s just that those animals don’t make our skin crawl as much.

I would love to join in a discussion on this with some people who are smarter than me, to see if there are any sociological, psychological or even spiritual aspects to this trepidation.

But I probably won’t do that.

I probably will just choose to keep my distance from the adder … even though I think being called a viper is really cool.