Karin Mitchell's books on Goodreads
Between Families Between Families
reviews: 5
ratings: 8 (avg rating 4.75)

Friday, January 21, 2011

I find myself praying lately. Which is weird because I don't really believe in god. I don't believe with any sort of certainty that there is NO god, but I tend to think there isn't one. I can get behind the idea of goodness. And I can get behind there being a possibility of a force of goodness. Maybe that's god. Or something.

Either way, I've found myself praying. Here and there. It started at an AA meeting. My dad's been in AA for 18 years now. In AA birthday years, he can vote. That's quite an accomplishment. And the way he keeps a hold on that sobriety thing that's so important for everything else in his life, is by continuing to be active in the program. And sometimes I go to meetings with him. I went most recently to a meeting with him on New Year's.

At the beginning of an AA meeting there's a moment of silence for those still suffering in the throes of alcohol. I held a client out to the forces of goodness in that moment. Which is like praying, I guess. Then there's the prayers at the end.

That client went into the hospital shortly thereafter. This morning he died.

I remember being at an AA meeting with my dad when I was in high school and them talking about alcohol killing you. I thought you died in alcohol related car accidents or maybe from moving on to other drugs and overdoses or drug related crimes or something. At the time, I didn't think of how alcohol can literally just kill you. Your organs. Liver, brain, dead. and there you go.

But it does happen. It wasn't surprising that this man died. The level of alcoholism... well, it just wasn't surprising.

But over the past few weeks, I've spent some time with this man's mother. And I'm heartbroken for this 77 year old woman who is stuck in a small mountain town, making arrangments to bury her barely 50 year old son. I'm heartbroken for his sister who lost a big brother. Someone she probably once looked up to. I'm sad for his dog who didn't care that he was a drunk and smelled funny, just loved him anyway.

I'll hold my own son tonight and hope that he didn't get that gene. I'll pray the swedish prayer I say to him at night to no one in particular. I'll pray for goodness to help save him and me from such a sad ending.

Gud som haver barnen kär
se till mig som liten är.
Vart jag mig i världen vänder
står min lycka i Guds händer.
Lyckan kommer, lyckan går,
den Gud älskar, lyckan får.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Do you have some days that are mentally stimulating? Where you just have all these interesting and seemingly novel ideas pop in your head? Like a muse has been playing songs in there all day.

I always think "oh, I should toss that in a blog" on days like that. "ooh and that too." And it'll go on all day and I'll have enough for one of those vomit-mouth mishmesh blog entries I'm so fond of. But then, half the time by the time I open the lap top to write it, I can't remember a damned thing. Its like the muse is really a children's book character that I only I can see. "I swear I had a fascinating epiphany to share! No, really, I did."

Anyway, since the really interesting ideas are probably being hoarded by that tooth fairy, muse bitch, I'll share what's left.

I was watching a documentary last night about this guy who was at a party when he was 16 and someone was murdered. He was falsely accused and lumped into a group with the actual shooters who were gun-toting gang members and they were all tried together so he went to jail. And just kept sitting in jail with all these people trying really hard to get through the legal process to get him out. It took 12 years I believe and last they knew when the movie was released, the state was going to retry him. The evidence against him was pretty weak and really he was only convicted because his attorney sucked and he was lumped in with the other two guys. He had nothing to do with the crime. He was at a party with friends and a crime took place.

I had a client some time ago who had a similar situation occur. Except she's white. And a she. And has a family with resources (see also MONEY.) She was a methhead at the time, I believe, and was present for a murder. Except she was a little more involved than this guy and intentionally didn't report the murder. She was initially charged with attempted murder and some other stuff. I don't know all the details of her criminal case but I can tell you she served less than a year. Now, I'm not saying I think she should have served more. I don't think she set out to hurt anyone or that violence was really a part of her character. She's essentially just a drug addict that's an otherwise nice person. So I don't think jail time was the answer. My point is more that our system is unjust.

I think our justice system is a great system on paper. The theory, the details... I really like it. But in practice its run by people. And the people who deliver the justice seem to have all these weird attitudes. These attitudes of us vs. them, good vs. bad, we're good guys getting bad guys attitudes. And the attitudes have bled into their behavior in a way that makes justice impossible.

Let me make this more concrete. You take a person in jail awaiting trial. Now we're supposed to have a presumption of innocence. And sometimes its a little silly, I'm not going to lie. That guy who killed the congresswoman in AR, ok he was seen shooting her, presumed innocence in that case is just a formality. But in most cases, it should be taken seriously. I've interviewed people in jail. You know, for work. And the deputies working in jail, the people, executing the system, they're not presumin' shit. Another example is the way police often have this attitude when they stop you. My general experience with police is positive. They hold our hands and make sure we're safe little caseworkers when we knock on doors to see if kids are safe and talk to parents about child abuse. But when we're doing that, we're on the side of the "good guys." And we're going to get the "bad guys." I don't think of it that way, but I can tell you police do.

My experience is that the "bad guys" are often made that way by lots of influences. Its a social system, its a socio economic system. Meaning, they aren't actually bad people. They love their kids and want nice cars and houses and to be loved and validated just like everyone else. They're less likely to be educated, more likely to have been exposed to violence, less wealthy, more likely to work more than one job to make ends meet.

There's this group in Chiapas, Mexico, the Zapatistas. They basically had a revolution and declared themselves independent of Mexico and have been developing their own social and educational systems ever since. Peacefully, too. I love them. Anyway, did I mention the part about them developing their own schools and curriculum based on the needs of their own community?

When I watched Mario Rocha, I thought, if in these communities they did the same thing, they'd have to offer curriculum about the law. I bet you could get a lot of buy-in from some ghetto kids talking about how to handle yourself when you get pulled over or interviewed by cops, or how to handle disputes with a landlord. That's some practical education right there.

In other news, I'm reading this book called, This is Your Brain on Music and its really got some fascinating tidbits. Like, the bottom key on a piano vibrates at the same rate as pictures streamed together trick your eye into seeing a moving picture. Crazy, right?