Beware of politicians bearing arrows instead of olive branches, whose bellicose words further belligerent ends; whose only end is not an end to war but an endless war against an invincible foe; whose will to fight will never atrophy even in the costliest—and deadliest—war of attrition, despite years of toil and rivers of turmoil drawn by the lash and paid by the sword.
Beware of the war on poverty or cancer or drugs. About the latter, beware of the politician or judge who thinks punitively and acts ruinously, whose policies are ruinous regardless of race, religion, gender, or income. Beware of the urge to imprison nonviolent drug offenders.
You do not have to love the sinner, when you can—and should—hate the greater sin of sending the sick to heal themselves among the sickest minds and the most wicked evildoers. What is the point of stripping a defendant of the last vestiges of hope by ordering him to endure a strip search before letting him rot in a windowless cell without an ounce of hope? How is this brand of exposure therapy therapeutic, when it forces those who harm no one but themselves to fend for themselves among murderers, rapists, and unrepentant thieves?
I am able to ask these questions, for now, because I fear I may never have the chance to ask them again.
I am a recovering drug addict who is free of drugs, not addiction. I have hurt my body and shamed my family. But my parents have never shunned me and my friends have never abandoned me. I am lucky to be alive.
I love life too much to live in pain and misery. Thus I cannot accept, and I will not abet, the attempt to fill the nation’s jails with people who are temporarily miserable but temperamentally meek.
I refuse to create more criminals by criminalizing a disease that is already a prison.
I prefer love over the toughness of a judge’s gavel or a police officer’s baton.
Photo credit: Getty Images