I found myself repairing and building things from an early age. Later, after venturing out into life, I soon discovered a philosophical bend and a deep interest in people.
Traveling from an early age I discovered countries and all their strangeness. I saw a mix of brutality, kindness and indifference towards strangers and people in general.
What surprised me the most was when I realized how afraid a lot of people were. Afraid of what other may think of them, often resulting in them choosing the wrong kind of people as friends in hope of acceptance, but not realizing that they jumped from the ashes into the fire.
How the most brutal might be physically strong but emotionally very weak and insecure, constantly trying to prove to the world that they were not to be ignored or ridiculed. Here education clearly made a huge difference.
It seemed that if people made it far enough in learning about life, they could discover that they too could contribute to society and they did pretty well for themselves. Feeling good about themselves was vital, and that came from having produced something valuable.
Money made no difference to most of them, it only changed some of the circumstances of their insecurities. I found this most fascinating. The big strong guy everybody feared – feared everybody else. The scariest and most abusive were the most insecure. Of course there were plain “crazies” too, but there were actually very very few of them.
Fortunately most people were happy and willing to help others.
When someone cut corners and did not actually do what the environment demanded of everyone alike, they got on a slippery slope to hell. Growing up with a crippled basic education, some individuals decided they could not win on an even playing field, and set out to create their own “field” made from their ideas. But since they fell behind in their education, they did not have anything workable to look back at and use to try to make something worth while.
But if you managed to bring them to a point where they realized by experience that they could win, even on a small scale, in society at large, they were very willing to try. Which is how I found gang members became gang members and how they could become part of our society once again.
Each and everyone could be traced back to having fallen behind in their studies as the root of choosing the wrong path. (Not to say it applies to all people, but it did with those I managed to sit down and talk to. It certainly is clear to me that failed education is a massive factor behind crime.)
The biggest and most valuable character appears to be the willingness to help others. I would say that a family, community, society and country is as well off as there are people who are willing to unselfishly help others.
It did not matter if I was in the poorest tin roof village in Africa, war infested East Europe, Beverly Hills or the Mid West (US), it all applied equally. Unfortunately the US media, in particular, offers so much bad news that people are more afraid of each other, than in any other country. We have a huge amount of technology in the US, which does us little good if we can’t overcome the barriers to be helpful to others.
The most willing people I saw came from the poorest in the deep of Africa. Here a family of eight live on the brink of starvation. When you show up they will offer you half their dinner as a sign of hospitality. You know if you don’t eat it they will be very insulted and offended. If you eat it, and let me tell you that most of the time you don’t even want to think about eating things like part of a pigs head, chicken entrails and so on, they will starve. Yet you have no choice. (Though I did find that if you could tell them that you have the runs, and that you don’t dare eating anything until it’s settles down was an acceptable excuse.)
Our planet offers a wealth of beauty and a ton of great challenges to overcome.
When we can, maybe not turn the cheek to be hit again, but not react in such a way that it closes the door for someone to return. Leaving the only choice a path of crime. When a person falls into making the the wrong choices we need to find a realistic path for him or her to return. Compassion with a healthy dose of practical sensibility is far superior than the mightiest sword, and can turn the worst of us into a peaceful lamb.
Sun Tzu, from ancient China, learned that when cornered, if you don’t give your enemy an opening to escape, they had nothing to loose and fought without care to the bloody end. Leave them a way out and they would choose it. Hope can be a very powerful tool. Remove it and there is nothing left.
Criminal re-education is not achieved with drugs or whips, it comes from personal observation and a belief that they too can win on society’s terms. I don’t believe in a “criminal” gene. Each of us get into trouble at times when we make the wrong choice. A choice that might not seem so bad at the time. (Unfortunately our western society has gotten trained to choose a drug as the easy way out. Yet if you look a bit closer you usually find them worse than what they supposedly treat. They are the chemical equivalent of ancient bloodletting and drilling holes in heads to let the evil out.)
I’ve seen that with a deep enough undercut even the hardest criminal wants to change their way.
It applies to technology as well. If you can be shown on a low enough gradient that you too can master it, then you become interested in learning. Its only when you give up the notion that you can learn that you try to come up with your own, often criminal, solution to winning.