Network Facilitator- Downstate
At last night's session, Cordova, who is called Cozy, said he had a stress and concern but it would require a little story.
When he first came to Downstate, some other Dominicans told him how to handle himself in the rules and rhythms of this particular inmate culture. It's the practice that most new men get orientated usually by their own people as to how the prison operates, which officers to watch out for, and which inmates they should steer away from because of their crime or because they are not trustworthy. Cozy was told that a certain man, another Dominican, was not to be respected. He, however, did not get any specifics as to why he was not to respect this man. A week or two ago, Cozy told the group that he had had the opportunity to counsel a new man, and he repeated what he had been told about this other Dominican guy, now five years ago.
A few days later this same new man came back to Cozy to say that he went to this guy he was told to steer clear of because he wanted to personally check the guy out. He said that what he had learned from Cozy about this man wasn't true., possibly because he had seen the man's court papers.
Group-think is a powerful reality in prison, whether it is peer pressure or the rumor mill. Moreover, many of the men often do not question rumors or feel responsible for them, even if they suspect they are not true, and then they pass them on. In a prison environment, where repeated rumors and gossip cannot be verified or checked, they can have a convincing and punishing air about them. Mao Zedong said if ten people believe a ie, then it is true, underscoring that the authority of propaganda and rumor rests in just how many people believe it or repeat it.
Your reputation, therefore, is important. If what is said about you is wrong or not true, even if it is only hearsay, it can be a matter of honor and even violence, especially if you are being called a rat or a snitch. However, if it concerns your crime in particular, say someone claims you are here because of sexual offense against a minor and it is not true, no one has to just take your word for it. You can show them your court papers to prove otherwise. In this case, it never occurred to Cozy to challenge the truth of what he had been told about this other man. Too many of his own people, the Dominicans, had said the same thing.
Yet now, when he learned otherwise, Cozy said he felt ashamed that he had participated in the rumor and passed it on to others. He thanked the new man for what he had done and for coming back to him with the correct story. To our group, he said he had felt honor-bound to go to the defamed man to apologize and then go to everyone to whom he had spoken of this man to tell them the truth. And he had done so.
Cozy was embarrassed that he had falsely damaged the man's reputation because he himself is so adamant about protecting his own. Many months earlier in group he had said that his whole family was fierce about maintaining its reputation and that you were expected to fight for it. Literally! "You just can't let that stuff go without dealing with it. Your reputation is always worth fighting for." Cozy is a big man, maybe 6'2" and about 230 lbs. When he talks about fighting someone, you can feel from his eyes that he is not speaking lightly.
After telling us his story, Cozy said that the man in question just happened to be in the A.R.T. class in the very next room and asked us if it would be okay to bring him into our room. We were all a little surprised but saw no reason to say no.
He was back in a minute with "Keith", a man maybe a head shorter than Cozy, looking a bit bewildered, not sure what this was all about. Cozy promptly repeated what he had told us, shook Keith's hand and apologized again. Keith said nothing, but smiled tentatively. In another second, he left the room without saying a word. It was all done in a great rush.
Cozy may have done this not so much to prove to us that what he said was true but to let Keith know that he had done what he had promised Keith he would do. The entire group praised Cozy.
The conversation then turned to how we all participate in this profiling of others, believing the pejorative information we've heard about them from others, not asking ourselves why this would be true of these particular people.
THE STORY OF LONELINESS, SELF AND LOVE
Tyrone Suggs, Woodbourne Network Community
Loneliness was born into a world that offered him nothing but deceit and lies. And through such trials and tribulations, Loneliness was always so sad. One day Loneliness decided to go out into the world to find true happiness. But after going from city to city and town to town, Loneliness found that people are practically the same wherever you go. So Loneliness became very disturbed that life was indeed a living hell. So with this, he decided to run away from it all and live the loneliness of this hell all by himself. Little did he know that that hell existed only within himself and the world he was holding accountable for it was not to blame at all.
Loneliness started to be as real as he would with self. He began to ask himself certain questions. Then he would begin to answer those questions with all the honesty he could muster. Because he knew how he wanted to be treated, he began to say, "I'll treat others the way I want to be treated." As soon as Loneliness said these words, a voice said, "Hi." Loneliness almost jumped out of his skin. As he looked around, he asked, "Who is that? And where are you?" He did not see anyone nearby. "I'm Self," the voice said. "Don't be afraid; I'm inside your, and I must tell you that once you've realized that the answer to dealing with the world lies within you, only then will the purity of your realness shine through." "Wow," Loneliness thought, "We had the answers all this time. It's almost like the quote Dad used to say to me: "He that's in you is greater that all that is in the world.' Yes, he would read what he called "The Good Book' to me. "I remember that, too, said Self. "But now that you have called me, I want you to know that I am always with you. And once we've established a good understanding, then my twin will also join us, Her name is Love." This seemed to puzzle Loneliness. "Where should I find her?" he asked. Self chuckled and said, "She is always around; you must look high and low and she will come to us." Loneliness set out to find Love. He searched high; and he searched low. But he found no Love. People he asked would like and deceive Loneliness about Love until his search began to seem like a lost cause. So he would continue to talk to Self.
One day, Loneliness told Self, "I'm not going to accept people's lies and deception anymore. If I can treat them good, then they can do the same for me!" When people saw that Loneliness took on a whole different attitude about life, they started to treat him with respect. Although some would attempt to test him, he would stand firm in his self. One day, a beautiful young lady walked up to him while he was sitting in the park and asked, Mr. Loneliness, may I sit here with you? I see that you are a beautiful person, and there's a light that shines from within you, that gives off so much love."
Loneliness couldn't believe his ears. First of all, she had called him "Mr." and, second, how was it that she could tell what Loneliness had been searching for? For a long time, she just looked at him, and then she asked, "Mr. Loneliness, may I ask you a question?" "Sure," he said. "How is it that you love your Self in such a refreshing and non-egotistical way?" Loneliness felt rather thrown off balance by the question but tried to answer with all the honesty he could muster: "By being real with myself." As he was saying this, he could hear his own words and knew at that moment that by being real with himself, through honesty, he had given birth to Love. It was like a miracle. He felt so good about himself, he said, "I think I'll change my name."
At that moment, he turned back towards the beautiful young lady, and she was gone! He looked around with a frown on his face. He could not understand how she had disappeared so quickly. However, he was happy for the first time in his life.
The next day, Mr. Loneliness went to the Court House to change his name. When he gave the clerk his social security number, she looked up with a puzzled expression on her face. "Sir," she said, "I'm afraid there's been a mistake here." "What do you mean," Loneliness asked. "Your name is not Loneliness according to these records. Sir, your name is Tyrone Suggs, and such a beautiful name at that." "Well, I'll be damned," thought Tyrone. "All these years, I've been running to trip over my own foot, only to find I had all of this understanding, love and compassion within my Self, and it wouldn't work until I worked it." Tyrone looked at the Court Clerk and said, "Well, thank you, Madam Clerk." And she said, "You're welcome, Mr. Suggs , and have a blessed and joyful day, sir."
The Cops' Behavior
Otisville Network Community
Cops were caught on camera, stopping a man from hitting people with a hammer.
Then a cop was caught shooting an unarmed black man in Atlanta.
Are all cops bad?
You know the answer.
A cop was caught throwing a young black girl to the ground, putting his knees in her back, all 200 lbs.
A cop was recorded helping a single mother with her financial stress; he donated a thousand.
She needed housing, so she bought it.
Are all cops bad?
According to these recordings:
A cop was filmed shooting an unarmed man in his back and charged with murder,
Because it's hard to argue that.
Then a cop was filmed pulling a man out of a burning car
just in time. Ten seconds longer, that man would have been charred.
Are all cops bad?
With a badge and a car?
Are all cops bad in the eyes of the law?
Or better yet, in the eyes of the poor?
Black lives matter
more and more.
A black man killed two innocent cops and then himself. Does that even the score?
He said he did it for Michael Brown.
Now tell me how that sounds?
And he even shot his girl before all that went down.
In your eyes, is he a hero or a clown?
A cop killed a man, claiming he thought he grabbed his taser. Then two weeks later, he vacationed in Malaysia.
A cop stopped a man from cutting people with a razor.
Some cops are bad, but some cops are saviors.
I guess it all depends on that cop's behavior.