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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dehumanizing Dirty Criminal Trash Before Disposal

Problems in community life are among the most distressing and troublesome aspects of our modern society. A great deal of attention is given to individual problems, yet community problems arguably are broader and more important because, to a large degree, they affect us all – young and old, rich and poor, male and female, and majority and minority group members.

Believing “bad people” are responsible for creating social ills, "good people" often tend to ignore helping to stop a community problem that doesn't directly affect them or their loved ones. They generally abhor those “bad people” who engage in criminal activities such as theft, child abuse and neglect, violence, drug use, welfare fraud, racism, and domestic violence, yet they fail to understand how they, the “good people,” contribute to the continuance of the problems.

Sure, “good people” complain about their own susceptibility to problems. After all, they must live in the same setting as “bad people” who practice unacceptable behavior. They also believe those in charge of enforcement and the judicial system should solve the problems so that decent residents like them can live a better life. In other words, they want “the system” to repair “the broken system.” They rally behind cries of "Do your job and hang 'em high!" 

Many “good people” become proactive with their immediate families. Of course, this is recommended to anyone in danger of becoming a victim of problematic criminal behaviors. They buy guns, install home security systems, talk extensively with family members about possible threats and appropriate reactions, and plan procedures with strategies to employ in case of personal intrusion. In essence, they recognize “bad people” access their neighborhoods, so they address the problem by strengthening their own castles and protecting their occupants.

So, to “good people,” the proper response to a problem is calling for tougher action in what they perceive as a failing system and taking care of their own. Nothing is wrong with these actions. We all would love to see more people take responsibility to improve their own conditions. But, the problem with this equation is the lack of action taken for the sake of others in the community, the lack of response to improving the common good and finding workable solutions.

All citizens even have a responsibility to help prodigal “bad people” to improve their lot and learn better to coexist. Instead, many “good people” want to “tighten the screws” on the “bad people” without looking at the roots of their behaviors. They care nothing about rehabilitation. Oh, sure, “good people” believe in second chances and understand making mistakes as long as “good people” are the ones who receive the benefits.

Without empathy, love, and action on the behalf of the entire community, the “good people” allow the problems to thrive. Problems cannot be wished away or ignored. “Good People” who are concerned chiefly with "looking out for Number One," and ignoring their responsibilities of citizenship, soon cannot "insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare" or carry on their other major duties as members of the state.

When a crisis comes, the people may turn in desperation to some hero-administrator. But in the end, that hero administrator will not restore the order without the cooperation and action of the citizens. A community cannot long endure unless a great many of its citizens stand ready and willing to brighten the corner where they are, and to sacrifice much for the good of all others, if need be. Citizens all have civic and social duties to address community needs and to serve the public good.

What moral responsibilities do all people have? Should they restrict their responsibilities only to doing things deemed beneficial to themselves or to doing things for those they judge as “good”? Moral responsibility is primarily the responsibility related to actions and their consequences in social relations. It generally concerns the harm caused to an individual, a group or the entire society by the actions or inactions of another individual, group or entire society.

When is it time to take action for the sake of all? When should "good" people decide to dirty their clean hands and reach out to those they deem unworthy? I believe they must when a murderous problem threatens their existence. You see, we often choose to let them exist, and they could cost us our lives.


by Maurice Ogden

Into our town the Hangman came.
Smelling of gold and blood and flame
and he paced our bricks with a diffident air
and built his frame on the courthouse square

The scaffold stood by the courthouse side,
Only as wide as the door was wide;
A frame as tall, or little more,
Than the capping sill of the courthouse door

And we wondered, whenever we had the time.
Who the criminal, what the crime.
That Hangman judged with the yellow twist
of knotted hemp in his busy fist.

And innocent though we were, with dread,
We passed those eyes of buckshot lead:
Till one cried: "Hangman, who is he
For whom you raise the gallows-tree?"

Then a twinkle grew in the buckshot eye,
And he gave us a riddle instead of reply:
"He who serves me best," said he,
"Shall earn the rope on the gallows-tree."

And he stepped down, and laid his hand
On a man who came from another land
And we breathed again, for another's grief
At the Hangman's hand was our relief

And the gallows-frame on the courthouse lawn
By tomorrow's sun would be struck and gone.
So we gave him way, and no one spoke.
Out of respect for his Hangman's cloak.
The next day's sun looked mildly down
On roof and street in our quiet town
And stark and black in the morning air,
The gallows-tree on the courthouse square.

And the Hangman stood at his usual stand
With the yellow hemp in his busy hand;
With his buckshot eye and his jaw like a pike
And his air so knowing and business like.

And we cried, "Hangman, have you not done
Yesterday with the alien one?"
Then we fell silent, and stood amazed,
"Oh, not for him was the gallows raised."

He laughed a laugh as he looked at us:
"...Did you think I'd gone to all this fuss
To hang one man? That's a thing I do
To stretch a rope when the rope is new."

Then one cried "Murder!" One cried "Shame!"
And into our midst the Hangman came
To that man's place. "Do you hold," said he,
"With him that was meant for the gallows-tree?"

And he laid his hand on that one's arm.
And we shrank back in quick alarm,
And we gave him way, and no one spoke
Out of fear of his Hangman's cloak.

That night we saw with dread surprise
The Hangman's scaffold had grown in size.
Fed by the blood beneath the chute
The gallows-tree had taken root;

Now as wide, or a little more,
Than the steps that led to the courthouse door,
As tall as the writing, or nearly as tall,
Halfway up on the courthouse wall.

The third he took-we had all heard tell
Was a user and infidel, and
"What," said the Hangman "have you to do
With the gallows-bound, and he a Jew?"

And we cried out, "Is this one he
Who has served you well and faithfully?"
The Hangman smiled: "It's a clever scheme
To try the strength of the gallows-beam."

The fourth man's dark, accusing song
Had scratched out comfort hard and long;
And what concern, he gave us back.
"Have you for the doomed--the doomed and black?"

The fifth. The sixth. And we cried again,
"Hangman, Hangman, is this the last?"
"It's a trick," he said, "That we hangmen know
For easing the trap when the trap springs slow.""

And so we ceased, and asked no more,
As the Hangman tallied his bloody score:
And sun by sun, and night by night,
The gallows grew to monstrous height.

The wings of the scaffold opened wide
Till they covered the square from side to side:
And the monster cross-beam, looking down.
Cast its shadow across the town.

Then through the town the Hangman came
And called in the empty streets my name-
And I looked at the gallows soaring tall
And thought, "There is no one left at all

For hanging." And so he calls to me
To help pull down the gallows-tree.
And I went out with right good hope
To the Hangman's tree and the Hangman's rope.

He smiled at me as I came down
To the courthouse square through the silent town.
And supple and stretched in his busy hand
Was the yellow twist of the strand.

And he whistled his tune as he tried the trap
And it sprang down with a ready snap.
And then with a smile of awful command
He laid his hand upon my hand.

"You tricked me. Hangman!" I shouted then.
"That your scaffold was built for other men...
And I no henchman of yours," I cried,
"You lied to me. Hangman. foully lied!"

Then a twinkle grew in the buckshot eye,
"Lied to you? Tricked you?" he said. "Not I.
For I answered straight and I told you true"
The scaffold was raised for none but you.

For who has served me more faithfully
Then you with your coward's hope?" said he,
"And where are the others that might have stood
Side by your side in the common good?"

"Dead," I whispered, and sadly
"Murdered," the Hangman corrected me:
"First the alien, then the Jew...
I did no more than you let me do."

Beneath the beam that blocked the sky.
None had stood so alone as I.
And the Hangman strapped me, and no voice there
Cried "Stay!" for me in the empty square.
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