An Experimental Take on Prisons

I recommend this thought provoking article published in Mother Jones about creating a more humane prison system:

http://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2017/07/north-dakota-norway-prisons-experiment/

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OPERATION FRESH START

OPERATION FRESH START (TM) – SCI GRATERFORD, PA LIFERS 

PUBLIC SAFETY INITIATIVE LAUNCH SET FOR

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR MEN AND BOYS

PHILADELPHIA, PA (USA) – 20 July 2017 – A collaboration between the OPERATION FRESH START™ Working Group and the USA International Men’s Day Team has culminated in the Fourth Annual International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys becoming a launch vehicle for the SCI Graterford, PA Lifers Public Safety Initiative which is a component of OPERATION FRESH START ™. The Honorable James M. DeLeon, a highly acclaimed jurist in the Criminal Court Division of Philadelphia’s Municipal Court, is the architect of OPERATION FRESH START ™ which is being heralded as a Global Model for eradicating recidivism and creating pathways to reintegration and real-life options for formerly incarcerated Men and Women who return to our communities – for the most part – uneducated, unskilled, and unemployable and in dire need of spiritual, emotional, and psychological healing.

OPERATION FRESH START™ is utilizing the Fourth Annual International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys which is being observed under the theme, “Transcending Boundaries” on Sunday, 5 November 2017 as a “Call To Action” for religious leaders and religious institutions of all faiths to implement the SCI Graterford, PA Lifers Public Safety Initiative by, among other things, creating Transformational Centers which will help detoxify the spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally toxic environment in our communities – an environment which is a breeding ground for crime, blight, dysfunctional behavior, economic turpitude, and hopelessness – and an environment that subliminally drives the decision making and actions of at-risk youths. The SCI Graterford, PA Lifers Public Safety Initiative is a blueprint for moving the key players — Returning Citizens — into the equation of eradicating critical challenges that prevent at-risk youths from reaching their full potential; resisting the gravitational pull of the streets and crime; and maturing into productive and purpose-driven adults. OPERATION FRESH START ™ and the SCI Graterford, PA Lifers Public Safety Initiative are in alignment with the mission of the International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys – a mission which involves helping at risk-youths – Our Children – transcend the key challenges of crime, hopelessness, lack of male role models, lack of access to legitimate real-life options, and making their journey from childhood to adulthood in a spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally toxic environment.

For information about OPERATION FRESH START ™ and the Fourth Annual International Day of Prayer for Men and Boys which is serving as a launch vehicle for the SCI Graterford, PA Lifers Public Safety Initaitive, contact the USA International Men’s Day Team at: insearchoffatherhood@gmail.com or 267-581-3963.

Long Term Solitary Confinement Must Be Abolished

Channeling Mr. Charles Dickens, very few men are capable of estimating the immense amount of torture and agony solitary confinement has inflicted upon me. The last twelve months in solitary confinement have been a terrible endurance that none but those who have suffered the like can fathom. Lon term solitary confinement is a mode of punishment which no man has a right to inflict upon a fellow human being.

I hold that this insidious daily tampering with the mysteries of the mind is immeasurably worse than any torture of the body. All who have been subjected to this nefarious punishment must return to society morally unhealthy, diseased of mind, and unfit for the rough and tumble contact and busy action of the real world.

Long term solitary confinement as a mode of punishment must be abolished if we are to stake the claim of being a civilized society. Only the most depraved would sanction a protracted wasting of the flesh and slow mortification of the spirit as a legitimate form of human punishment–a punishment bereft of hope and promise.

The vast majority of human beings who have endured long term solitary confinement are transmogrified into zombies – living breathing creatures with no heart or real feelings, senses numbed dulled and atrophied by extended extreme isolation and deprivation of real human contact. They are like a caged bird that after years of not using its wings is released only to realize that despite retaining the appendages of wings it can no longer take flight. The muscles and nerves required having wasted away.

Long term solitary confinement as a mode of punishment is reprehensible to modern human conscience and must be abolished, permanently discarded upon the pile heap of the history of man devised barbaric and inhuman punishments like quartering, the rack, and crucifixion.

 

Kindness in the News

This is a great story about a young woman who took time to notice another person in need of help. A few minutes of their exchange went viral and has now expanded into the awareness of others.

That’s the magic of Kindness!

READ HERE

Words Do Matter

Trump’s tossing out of real and made up words without thinking of the consequences is a most dangerous trait for someone with power. His verbal spillage is more a sign of mental illness than of a mature, thoughtful leader. Our Global Kindness Revolution’s co-director, Afghani-American Atta Arghandiwal, used to listen to the speeches of President John F. Kennedy when he was a boy in Afghanistan. Learning English from Peace Corps volunteers, his soul was imprinted by Kennedy’s words, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”

These words motivated Atta to devote his life to humanitarian work on behalf of refugees and immigrants. He escaped as a refugee himself when the Russians invaded Afghanistan over three decades ago, finally landing in America where he had a successful career in banking. His upcoming work, GLOBAL RESOURCE GUIDE FOR IMMIGRANT FAMILY SUCCESS brings a roadmap for negotiating foreign systems and customs from the first thought refugees and immigrants have of leaving their home to eventual integration into their host country. There’s no other book like this and it will surely have a most positive impact for current and future refugees and immigrants seeking freedom and opportunity as wars and climate change force more mass migration. With our “Kindness at Noon, Everywhere, Everyday for Refugees and Immigrants” effort (see www.Trustonekindness.com for info), we hope the energy of altruism and kindness will overtake and neutralize the hatred encouraged by Trump’s words that encourage our MEAN MINDS and discourages our KIND MINDS.

French-Canadian visionary, Luc Goulet, offers a blueprint for the future with his BigBang Project and his soon-to-be published LEVERAGE YOUR MIND: A BETTER ME IS A BETTER WE. His analysis of the positive economic impact of shopping locally and volunteering is incredible.

This country, despite its noble calling, has always been resistant to refugees to say nothing about its treatment of slaves and people of color. My grandparents came from Ireland, Italy and Russia, and all experienced discrimination and threats including the burning of a cross on their southern lawn, which permanently traumatized my father and his younger sister, who witnessed it.

Recent studies indicate the size and activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain dealing with emotions, is related to altruism—those with smaller amygdala and little altruistic brain activity have little altruism, like psychopaths like Trump. Those with high altruism tend to have larger and more active amygdalas, one assumes like Atta and Luc. Another study shows that psychopathic children also show evidence of brain involvement in their pathology, and though previously considered untreatable, are found to be trainable in altruism. By positively rewarding them, they learn to act altruistically even though it doesn’t originate from the amygdalas. So “Kindness at Noon” and our efforts like “Kindness Behind Bars Training Program” show promise, if enough of us commit to truly leveraging our mental power every day at noon. The easiest revolution ever!

Can we stand strong and not succumb to the Trump lies and fear-mongering that ISIS thrives upon, using Trump’s words in recruiting terrorists, putting not just our nation but all nations at risk in the distorted name of a religion, making sure that our kind minded voices are heard over the angry hoards celebrating their ignorance and violence globally, embarrassing kind, thinking Americans. Edmund Burke wrote that “All that is necessary for evil to flourish is for good men (and women) to do nothing.”

No matter where you are, go to www.indivisibleguide.com to find an indivisible or other community group working on issues important to you and to a flourishing democracy. Or write a letter to the editor. Start a blog. Join demonstrations when you can. Speak out! Call your legislators! Volunteer! Shout out! Sing out! Be mindful of your words-keep them positive and kind…words are energy and as they fly through the air you never know where they will land. Will they be used as recruitment by ISIS or to inspire a young boy or girl in a third world country to become an active humanitarian?

Judith Trustone, GLOBAL KINDNESS REVOLUTION: HOW TOGETHER WE CAN HEAL VIOLENCE, RACISM AND MEANNESS.

The Science of Altruism

Take a listen to this NPR segment on a very intriguing but disturbing topic, child psychopaths. This interview with Barbara Bradley Hagerty breaks down how this behavior manifests itself in children. She talks about the emotional center in the brain, or the limbic system and how children who demonstrate psychopathic traits have a dysfunction in that area, i.e., the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes fear. Data has shown this part is smaller in those who show psychopathic tendencies.

The interview cites an intensely disturbing account of a 6-year-old girl whose parents witnessed her attempting to strangle her baby sister. It gets even more alarming from there. Hagerty explained that these kids are not only void of any empath, the idea of punishment doesn’t have any influence on them. One approach by medical professionals is emphasizing the idea of rewards as opposed to using punishment as a means to correct behavior.

See also Hagerty’s in-depth article in the Atlantic on child psychopaths.

With regard to my platform of Kindness–(and Kindness at Noon), this topic is at the opposite end of the spectrum but worth examining, especially because it involves children. There is hope that some can be helped through specialized methodology. For kids who will be successfully steered onto a more altruistic path, they are the future in paving the way for practicing kindness. While I was writing The Global Kindness Revolution, future generations was one of the focal points. What will kindness look like 100 years from now? With the breakneck pace of technology, I wanted to dig in and diagnose our collective mindset and the trajectory we’re now taking.

This excerpt from the book’s introduction explains the concept behind genuine kindness as a focused practice (Kindness at Noon):

Imagine if approximately 3,734,000 or 51% of us decided to align our mental energy fields to positively influence the rest of the world! That’s what the Global Kindness Revolution is all about. This is the first time ever that we’ve had the social media tools with which to affect everyone connected through two billion smartphones and a billion computers. If 51% of the population decides to try it, we can strengthen the vibrational field of kindness and weaken the violence and negativity that plagues us all.

For far too long we’ve been operating under the notion that we’re alien to one another. Wars and hatred of those not like us has twisted our thinking into accepting this as the “new norm.” We cannot allow this to continue to grow like a poisonous fungus, destroying our capacity to think clearly and act in rational ways with compassion, not only for our environment, but for others who are less fortunate. We must learn to embrace each other and in turn, improve our planet. That is our challenge and we can meet it together for just five minutes (or more) a day.

The New Science is finally catching up with spirituality and is in the process of providing validation for what was once deemed “unexplainable.” The exercises and visualizations in this book can now be viewed as technological tools, not some way out “woo-woo” theory.

Now, thanks to scientific explanation such as String Theory in the new physics, which postulates that at any given moment, there are eleven different dimensions to reality, or Chaos Theory, which demonstrates how the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil eventually becomes part of a tornado in Toronto—we know the techniques described in this book have scientific explanations for these experiences and their effectiveness. You don’t have to walk on fire to believe these things are possible and in fact, we DO have the power to make the world a better place for seven generations to come.

More than twenty-five hundred years ago, the Buddha described what scientists are now calling the smallest part of material, “subatomic particles.” If we take two of these tiny particles, invisible to the naked eye, and expand them to the size of a pea, the space between subatomic particles would be two miles. It’s the flow between the peas wherein lies our interconnectedness to others—the life force or FLOW, what some call God, or other deities, exist. It is within that Flow that healing and expanded consciousness occurs in response to minds focused and determined, motivated in part by their DNA and the experiences that affect it. We’ll call the Flow “The Light of Kindness” as this book helps us to learn, live and heal within this Light, and to help brighten this light in others.

Technostress: State of Overwhelm

I love this jazzy tune, State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.) by Jim James. Not only is it a great song, it conveys a very thought-provoking message about the impact technology is having on all of us as we navigate this 21st Century chaos, or what I call “technostress” in chapter eight of my book, The Global Kindness Revolution.

Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

I use my state of the art technology

Supposed to make for better living

But are we better human beings…?

This idea he’s presenting is something we’ve all considered at one point or another if we’re truly honest. Make no mistake, I appreciate the miracles of technology and all of the convenience it affords us. From a broader perspective I’m a firm believer in finding balance. In this high-tech environment, we must make room for mindfulness–disconnecting from the noise and really tapping into our awareness of what it means to maintain a healthy state of being when our being isn’t deluged or dominated by technology. Of course, this includes spending time in nature, meditation, or whatever brings you a sense of serenity. Not only does that improve our psyche, it enhances our relationships as we’re more inclined to connect with others in ways that don’t rely on texting or email.

Think about it. And give James’ song a listen!

Here’s a section from Chapter 8 of my book: “Does Technology Make us Kinder?”

Does technology in some way cause us to lose our humanity as Cohen suggests in the opening quote? Some studies indicate that today’s youth are less compassionate, more self-centered and hungrier for approbation than previous generations.

Will the scares like cell phones giving us cancer just add to the stress of thinking about what to avoid in the ongoing list of things that cause cancer? Just how safe are all these gadgets over long-term use? No one really knows. Most of the chemicals in our environment have never been tested for their effects on humans. For example, when we were kids in the summers we used to run gleefully in the spray of the mosquito control truck, and we played on x-ray machines in the shoe departments of department stores, or the mercury in the “silver” amalgam fillings in our mouths, perhaps planting the seed of some kind of cancer decades hence. We can only pray that in this toxic soup in which we all live we’ll be relatively healthy and of sound mind, mobile and untouched by ADHD and the devil of dementia when we age.

Here we are in an epidemic of technology, which so many of us find daunting and overwhelming. At a time in our lives when some of us want to wind down a bit, we’re confronted with the choice of feeling extraordinarily stupid while we learn to work these damn things, which is bad for aging egos. Or we decide not to plug in at all to this virtual world, thereby signing up permanently for old age and a much smaller world. The choice is always ours, but if we have grandchildren nearby who are internet savvy, we can move forward despite feeing embarrassed by our inadequacies when it comes to technology.

Some of us of a certain age choose to capitulate to our discomfort as our analogue brains feel stupid trying to adjust to a foreign digital world. Without the help of my IT son, Doug, none of my books would ever have been written.

Be gentle with us.

~WHY I LOVE TECHNOLOGY~

When my friend Bea recently lost her healthy, sixty-six year old daughter, Caren Cross, to an aneurism, she was unable to attend the memorial service in a hard to reach town in Mexico, where her daughter lived. So we had a gathering of friends and relatives in the community room in our condo, with flowers, food and a Skype setup, allowing us to share in a simultaneous ceremony in celebration of Caren’s life. I love technology!

Maybe you have a grandbaby far away that you’d read stories to over Skype? Or you want to email to friends, sharing jokes and experiences, keeping yourself connected however virtual. For news junkies it’s a way to get a broader though often slanted view of political happenings or the latest in celebrity gossip. Soldiers can communicate with loved ones from the battlefront. Would the revolutionary spirit released in the Middle East have happened without smartphones? What would the social scene look like without internet dating?

You can look up relatives, old friends, old lovers and classmates on Facebook, which is a mixed bag, unfortunately threatening many a marriage like some Congressmen have learned. But the ability to reconnect with those from your past opens up rewarding opportunities. An example of this is Ancenstry.com where you can trace your family lineage. Pick any random subject you have a curiosity about and Google will fetch buckets of information. Technology has expanded our awareness in ways we never could’ve imagined.

~WHY I HATE TECHNOLOGY~

With all of the spoils technology has afforded us, there’s a price to be paid for its magical conveniences. We’ve all seen and experienced the downsides individually and on a collective level. Some are more detrimental than others. As discussed in Chapter 5, cyberbullying is one of the most damaging repercussions of the technological era. Child pornography is another nefarious offshoot of the virtual realm. These are the more grievous examples of why I hate technology. Other examples that range from petty annoyances to sad truths about how we’re losing our human connection. Real world interactions have become diluted by the ceaseless stream of electronic information, causing our focus to be splintered, not to mention the more dangerous distractions such as texting while driving. This is the new normal we’ve all been plunged into, for better or for worse…