I was speaking with a friend last night about the idea of justice. My friend is a former police officer, with a seemingly strong sense of right and wrong. Personally I am not a fan of the idea of right and wrong. In a chaotic universe, where so many of life’s incidents happen at random, impacting individuals psychologically and physically deeply into the future with unknown effects how can we ever say anything is “right” or “wrong”.
Retrospectively perhaps, but the idea of right or wrong must purely be relative, so one man’s justice could in fact just be another man’s destruction.
Maybe it’s more of a societal question, a set of standards and rules put forth by tribal vote. A group of people decide that in their community it is wrong to eat a banana. They declare that banana’s are ethically bad for the tribe, and based on their shape may drive women completely insane, thus banana’s are forbidden. It seems arbitrary to outsiders, but maybe a hundred years ago one of the first banana’s ever consumed by that tribe happened to be poisoned, bad, etc. causing the death of the head tribesman. Therefore one bad banana was declared to have ruined the whole bunch for all of time.
So it is then, lore, ethics, and superstition, that governs that tribe. Mythology develops about this poisonous deadly banana, forests of banana tree’s are burned… which happens to really piss off the tribe next door, who has developed their culture based off the consumption of these bananas, which in turn causes war. The banana has become sacred to Tribe number 2. They, for years have existed in a world where banana’s are plentiful, and now this group of banana haters has come to destroy their sacred plant.
Who then is right? Tribe 1 has built their culture and society off the belief of the “bad banana” based on hundreds of years of legend, and at one point empirical evidence that banana’s cause death. They feel they are doing Tribe 2 a favor, destroying this poison, a poison that must have caused them all to go completely insane (obviously by consuming too many banana’s).
In the end Tribe 1 is victorious, they have wiped out the main food staple of an entire tribe causing them all either to convert to non-banana eaters, or starved the banana eaters to death. Tribe 1 is then able to continue to propagate and thrive, which they attribute ultimately to their good health and saving of all those that did not starve to non-banana eaters.
Justice has prevailed. In Tribe 1, “right” has superseded “wrong” proven by their ability to continue a rich culture, and although it may have been based on a fallacy or false premise, in a way I must agree, they are perhaps “right”. Because no matter what you believe to be right or wrong, justice is not really about the repercussions of an action, it’s about survival. Which perhaps is why the idea is so ingrained in most people’s minds. It’s primal – survive.
Be the one man in the banana hating tribe to prove that banana’s are safe to eat and you are killed as a freak of nature. Start a secret cult of banana eater’s, write essays and documents explaining the health benefits of potassium in a man’s diet, and perhaps you are all burned at the stake for heresy.
Change takes time, especially to those with deeply rooted attachments to these ideas of right and wrong.
Many men are murdered in this banana war. Generations of people feel betrayed by those that killed their loved ones over these bananas. They pass these beliefs to their children, and their children’s children, and for generations the war continues, the hate grows deeper, the land is scorched by those that seek to destroy these bananas. Each with their own idea of justice. I don’t believe in justice anymore (not in that sense at least). I believe in cause and effect. I believe that we have become so attached to our past, our history, our emotional connections, lore, mythology, and emotional pain, that truth and reason has faded. Our logic has become blinded, we can’t stop the cycle, there must be justice for someone… and all of this for what… one bad banana?
It’s simple to think about this in terms of banana’s it get’s more complex when you think of it in terms of rape, murder, pedophilia, abuse, etc. That’s when people exclaim “of course those things are wrong!” sure, retrospectively, but in a world where all you know is banana’s = death to us all, you may be able to attribute it to generations of hurt, and abuse.
Rapists, murders, abusers, at some point each of these people had become so inherently hurt by those meant to protect or help them they did either the thing they were taught to do or were neglected so badly that society failed to notice the severe decline of their mental health.
So where is justice there? Kill the murder, or lock him in jail for the rest of time. The murderer has children, who then grow up without a father, who hate the system who put their father in jail, the family is lopsided with only one parent raising many children, the children are neglected, the neglect leads to acting out, the acting out leads to jail, the jail leads to more hatred towards the system that has put them there, the lack of family attention leads to a want for kinship in fellow suffer’s who hate the system, call it a “gang”. The gang is filled with hate, hurt, loneliness, the family is poor with no access to mental help for these children. The hate builds, the desperation of poverty leads to robbery, which turns to further violence, all the “gang” knows is violence. The children grow to adults who have children of their own, who they teach this violence to, until one day, while robbing a liquor store a “gang” member is killed, he is put in jail, his children are left to begin the cycle again. Where is the justice?
During that same time period mental and behavioral health programs for the state of California only added up to $77.5 million
A difference of nearly 200% more on keeping people incarcerated versus helping those in need and stopping the cycle.
Expands Public Safety Diversion Programs. The spending plan provides $67.5 million from the General Fund on a one–time basis to establish a community infrastructure grant program administered by the California Health Facilities Financing Authority. The competitive grant program will distribute funds to cities and counties to increase capacity within local mental health, substance use disorder, and trauma–centered service facilities, with the intent that these expanded facilities will serve as an alternative to incarceration for individuals with behavioral health disorders. The grants will finance the acquisition or renovation of new or expanded facilities and equipment, as well as support diversion program startup or expansion costs. In addition to funding diversion services, the grant funding is intended to expand services to sex trafficking victims, domestic violence victims, and victims of other violent crimes.
Funding to Build a Continuum of Children’s Mental Health Crisis Services. The spending plan includes $30 million on a one–time basis to build a continuum of children’s mental health crisis services. The funding consists of $16 million from the General Fund—including a $6 million reappropriation—and $14 million in Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) state administration funding. The funds will establish a grant program administered by the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission and the California Health Facilities Financing Authority, to which counties will apply. The grant program will support county efforts to build a full range of children’s crisis services, including residential crisis beds that serve as an alternative to hospitalization, community–based intervention services, expanded respite care, and crisis training for families.
State Resources to Maintain Suicide Hotline Funding at Current Level. The spending plan includes $4 million in one–time MHSA state administrative funds to allow the state’s 11 crisis call centers that answer calls through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to maintain recently introduced services that were previously funded with discretionary county MHSA funds. The one–time funding is intended to temporarily address an ongoing suicide hotline funding shortfall until a permanent funding plan can be identified and selected.”
But here’s the point, if the idea of justice is about survival about what’s best for the tribe, even if it were based on something as arbitrary as banana eaters vs non banana eaters, no one in either current tribe is experiencing any kind of justice. No one is winning here. The logic and truth is still being burned at the stake in the name of archaic emotional response rather than logic.
Which brings me back to the realization of why my friend is now a former police officer, there are many reasons… but being a reasonable man I would have to assume that one of them is because he has already gathered the idea that the easiest way to stop this cycle and find true justice is to help those in need. Which might be why he is now a behavioral health psychiatrist specializing in PTSD, and trauma survivors like me.
When my mind wanders and I hear an unfamiliar sound above me I begin to worry about unrealistic daydreams… like bears fighting on my roof.
Or the concern that I can’t draw a bear because I can’t conceptualize its face…
But the real worry, naturally, is it’s weight on the slates of the rooftop.
How will the planks sustain such a quarrel between two such fearsome creatures?
I worry about the gravel, the sharp stones atop the tar burying themselves between the soft skin of each tender pad. It would truly be a source of annoyance, and furthermore a sore spot ripe for infection that could possibly lead to its ultimate demise.
For it’s own sake, someone should really get those bears off the roof…
More at: www.mscherrymartini.com
It had been 3 years since my first visit to Randy Polumbo‘s intricate and fascinating Rock and Glass house (affectionately known also as the “Trash House“) and I couldn’t help but breathe a deep sigh of relief, I was home.
My first visit was in February of 2014. Me and 5 friends went in on the rental thinking it would be a nice escape from the monotony of our 9-5 jobs. The photos on VRBO looked interesting, and me being an artist, did my best to sell them on the idea of going. “Cowboy tub guys!!! come on!”
We arrived after dark, and made our way down a dusty road to distant lights and followed the instructions on how to enter the house. Despite the cold outside the house was warm, pulsing with down-beat house music playing, and with the lights turned low, you could almost feel that this place had a living breathing soul.
The second we entered we were kids in a play house. There was a chandelier made of old flashlights, a ladder to climb to the loft area, a somewhat spooky “kids room”. The place oozed with character, childlike wonder, and a bit of naughty “peek-a-boo” holes that would satisfy even those that don’t consider themselves perverted, perhaps “just curious”.
One weekend wasn’t enough to satisfy any of us, we vowed to return, to once again witness the snow fall on the desert from the warmth of the indoor spa, to stoke the fire and find the secret treasures that inspired the artist in all of us.
This past March we finally returned. This time we came armed with costumes, and art supplies, with camera, and recorder to ensure that we would capture the magic and mystery that brewed from each of us inspired by this home.
I hope that one day I have the opportunity to meet Randy and thank him personally for building such a unique and beautiful space. In the meantime here are a few photos taken from our desert trip.
You better not fade into the dark. You better not put your hand in the fire and let it burn because the smoke is noxious.
You better live. You better know what it means.
He asks “Are you leaving?”
I should stay.
Those words echo in my mind, suddenly I’m in the doorway, I look into his eyes, and he stands there stoney faced and fading quickly, and asks “Where are you going?… Will you be coming back?”
And in my head I speak to myself and say “I’ve been running from something, all these years, and it’s not you.. it’s me I’m running away from, it is all the hope I have of staying with you, it is the future I’m running from, but you know all I want is to stay here with you…forever and ever, but I’m so afraid…so afraid”
I left that night. I stared into his hopeful eyes, said nothing, turned around, started up my ghia and disappeared into the night. I think I broke his heart that night. I think I heard it shatter across the floor as I closed that door.
I didn’t leave last night, I didn’t leave. I stayed and I curled back up and into his arms last night. I let the truth roll out and the tears stream down, and took a breath… I took a breath…
Everything is a vivid memory, tainted with the smoke of time. Like the smell of silk holding cigarette smoke after being up all night.
It’s hard to be the villain, but if someone has to do it I guess I am best suited for the role. I don’t own a cape, but I have many masks, and every villain needs a mask.
I’ve got the secret hide out too, so I guess this is the role I was born to play.
Everyone hates the selfish beast anyway, everyone hates to hear the hurt, everyone hates to be ignored.
So go on, and tell it all, tell it all the way you’ve heard it from a friend of a friend. How I never really loved, go on and call me a liar and a cheater and a whore.
I’ll lend you a mask in the morning and we can all just pretend together, first you find your white horse. You can be the lone ranger and I can be your sore.
All I can say is that I’m not going to take it all, anymore…
I have twisted myself into circles, and have come back again. Around and around in my mind and the infinite loop is exploding. I am imploding and the chemicals just don’t mix like they use to anymore.
I still can’t sleep, I still can’t eat, but I can hope, and that’s good enough for me…
“Hope is the thing with feathers. That perches in the soul, And sings the tune–without the words, And never stops at all” -Emily Dickinson.