"You Don't Know Me!"
But for the grace of God, I could be serving out the remainder of my life in a prison somewhere rather than developing as a writer and running for political office. It's a world most don't know and, frankly, don't consider.
A few days ago, I wrote an article detailing how some people NEED their hands held to get out of poverty. It met with all sorts of responses, and the quite legitimate point that it isn't the government's job to do that for MOST US citizens was brought up.
But as I brought up, it IS the government's job for SOME of those children because of the system WE have supported: the US foster care system. See, every year, thousands of children are snatched from their parents by a government that deems them "unfit". Although 97% of those cases will never involve the criminal courts, 580,000 children currently reside in US foster care, and only 44% of those will ever be returned to their biological parents. Although some of them will be adopted, a great number of them will "age out" in a variety of "temporary" placements that did not have the time or the inclination to teach life skills to those children.
The "liberal" side of me is the side that has stayed awake nights wondering how many of our death row inmates are the byproducts of this system. They did not begin either good or bad, they simply spent their formative years as a commodity, being shuttled back and forth from placement to placement like livestock. They never had anyone to call "family"; they never attached formative bonds to anyone. While society certainly should be protected from these monsters, society must also realize these are the monsters they, themselves, created, and for whom they must bear some level of accountability. They are not immoral, they are Amoral, having never been taught of any higher good than their own self fulfillment. It is natural that they steal; they are the center of their own universe, and their life experience has taught them that material goods are temporal and transitory. Killing can be rationalized in their own improperly formed ethos as eliminating an obstacle to their own happiness, which is, to them, the highest good. Even in the rare case that these were children removed from a dysfunctional household, it was THEIR dysfunction, and, to them, their only reality.
The causes of material poverty and crime in this country are many. They can't be boiled down to a simple cause and effect scenario. But there are an increasing number of times when government is the DIRECT cause of crimes and poverty, and when that is the case, it IS unquestionably the government's duty to remedy the problems it created.
In my case, the government DID, and for that I am forever grateful. Because, you see, the government didn't solve the problem through the time honored tradition of throwing money at it, or through a multitude of social programs, but through forcing me to take responsibility for my actions and own up to who I was and allowing me a second chance that many of our GOP politicians are trying to slam the door on for future generations. But there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of young men and women "aging out" of US foster care who will never have those opportunities. It is our duty as citizens to either stop allowing the government to assume the role of parent so arbitrarily or force them to take responsibility for the product of their actions, at OUR expense. It is, after all, our responsibility to stop the monsters WE create.