One Cop Making a Difference

Dear friends, especially American friends,

Every day Pocket offers me a number of news articles, or headlines, to tempt me to read the latest news and views. Well, I just read an article that I wholeheartedly applaud and want to pass on the link, in case you’re interested.

These days we’re inclined to shake our heads when we read the news and wonder how things will ever right themselves again. But here’s one man offering a sensible idea about policing, a clear explanation as to why the current system isn’t working well, and how to improve it. An idea he’s put into practice on his own beat. You can read it here: Washington Post Article

What he’s suggesting is much like the policing that Nicholas Rhea writes about in his Constable series, the community involvement practiced by English bobbies for generations. I’ve read several Constable books now and highly recommend them if you want some simple, relaxing reading. And now it’s great to hear that an American city cop is using this system, too — and it works!

Now here’s another thought about making a difference:

Kennedy quote.
Image by Mylene 2401 at Pixabay

 

 

Respect + Self-Respect

The Word of the Day Prompt this morning was RESPECT.

To me this is such an inspiring, healthy, upbeat word that I want to write something about it before my day is done.

I was thinking about a fellow Canadian we have a lot of respect for: journalist and author Conrad Black. When he writes, his articles are informative and what my husband and I consider to be a fair and sensible take on his subjects.

This evening, however, I’m thinking of one particular aspect of his life: the experiences he had during the time he was an inmate in one of Uncle Sam’s jails.

A bit of background:
Conrad Black once owned a chain of newspapers in Canada, some in the US, with shares in the Telegraph group in England and a couple of newspapers in Australia. He was living and working in the States when he was arrested and according to Google, “convicted in July 2007 on three counts of mail and wire fraud and one count of obstruction of justice”
Mr Black spent 29 months in a Florida prison before being granted bail. When his case came before the Supreme Court, the Court declared the statute under which he was convicted to be unconstitutional. Charges against him were dismissed and he returned to Canada. However, the case against him is not relevant to the direction of this post.

So what does a journalist do when he’s incarcerated? He writes about it, naturally. I read several articles he wrote while he was in prison, and one in particular has stayed with me. That’s where I want to go with this post.

While he was in prison, he just didn’t sit around writing articles. He spend a fair bit of his time teaching other prisoners to read and write — and in giving an education, he got an education. In interacting with the other prisoners, he got a better picture of the workings of the US justice system. In particular, how it works for poor, illiterate men.

Needless to say, he didn’t come away with a high regard for the education system where so many underprivileged children fall through the cracks. This isn’t always the fault of the schools; sometimes there’s just no encouragement from home — no home even. But it’s sad to see that North American schools have been abandoning the basics in favor of the fluff and passing on those who really need help. Illiteracy among Canadians born and raised and schooled here is shocking.

Mr Black, after listening to his fellow inmates, concluded that if you haven’t got the smarts to defend yourself in a court of law, your chances of being convicted are definitely higher. I’ve read a few stories about poor illiterate blacks who barely understood the proceedings being falsely convicted, especially in the South. I don’t think this is so very rare.

He also wrote that if you haven’t got a basic education so you can get a job and earn a decent wage, your chances of ending up in jail are a lot higher. And re-offending. No news there.

Which comes back to my point about respect. Respect for others comes from learning about them as real people. Self-respect, the ability to stand up and face the world, to get ahead, comes from learning, too. It’s pretty hard to keep your head above water if you don’t have a solid rock to stand on. Like basic “Readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic.”

I’ve seen this. I’ve a cousin who can’t read her bank statement or a business letter, and couldn’t begin to understand this post. Medical issues are total confusion. When her purse was stolen she didn’t report it because she’s scared of dealing with the police, in case they ask her questions she can’t understand. Lack of remedial classes and a poor home combined to hinder her schooling.

I respect Mr Black for his efforts to work with these men and to give them the basics — and the self-respect — they’d need to build a life outside the prison walls. And I respect and applaud all the folks out there who have taken the time to teach, to mentor, to work with, folks who need a helping hand. They are a mighty army, working unseen.

Which brings me to my friend Margaret’s poem. I’m using it with the confidence that if my dear friend were alive, she’d give her permission. She and her husband Milton were just such people as she describes here.

Quiet Folk
by Margaret Penner Toews

Some folks there are who, quiet, go about
Unseen, unheard, unknown
sowing kernels
digging wells
building bridges
picking stones
raising altars

…planting poignant thoughts in ordinary talk about His Presence,
…dig, and leave no signature, while others draw and drink,
…building bridges over chasms, deeply cut by hate and color, creed and prejudice
…removing stumbling stones of cruelty, indifference and scorn along the road, so those who walk in darkness will not fall
…erecting altars by their hearths, in secret closets, or on busy thoroughfares.

Quietly these folks ‘deliver cities’ (Ecclesiastes 9:14-15)
but no one knows
and no one will remember…
(most certainly not they themselves)

…Except for God…and He will never be a debtor.
He takes a leisurely eternity to give rewards.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From her book, First A Fire
© 1993 by Margaret Penner Toews
Available from PrairieView Press

Sunday Whirl: A Hint of Fear

Good morning everyone!

On Sunday I came across another writing challenge offered by host blogger Brenda Warren, called The Sunday Whirl. Here’s the banner:

And here’s the word list for Wordle #457:

I took the given words and wrote the story on Sunday already, just haven’t gotten around to posting it. The above words, in various forms, mostly appear in the first few paragraphs. The second part  I wrote just because I do like a good story. 🙂

A HINT OF FEAR

Larissa had won a scholarship to this college and she wasn’t going to waste it. She concentrated on her studies, foregoing holidays, declining invites to weekend parties. She even limited her trips back home so she could study.

Her diligence paid off in spades. When the marks were handed back after the last set of exams, she had to look twice. But it was true: she’d aced the exams. She was going to graduate with honors. She plowed her fist into the air and did a little pirouette.

She resisted the urge to dance around the room. Instead she thanked her professors and headed home where she could do all the singing and dancing she wanted to. Ah, but first a stop at Dairy Delightful, where she indulged in a delicious hot fudge sundae with whipped cream. This might inflate her waistline a bit, but she’d take a long jog tomorrow.

“Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars,” she sang as she slid the key in the lock on her apartment door. She opened the door partway when the strangest feeling hit her. Something felt very wrong, like someone was here. The odd sense of danger made her skin prickle.

She shook it off as imagination and stepped into the apartment, but that feeling of apprehension kept her from closing the door. Made her sigh a prayer. “God, if there’s really something wrong here, show me somehow.”

Though her eye saw nothing unusual, she did pick up a slight difference in the air. Had she left a window open? “Once I get a good-paying job I’m moving up in the world,” she promised herself. “Tenth floor at least.”

She straightened her spine and told herself firmly, “There is nothing wrong. I am not going to give in to some silly fear and let it spoil this beautiful day.”

But as she entered the room, the slight air movement brought to her a hint of stale tobacco. She didn’t smoke and neither had anyone else when they visited her. Acting on impulse she backed out of the room, shut the door, and locked it. Then she called her cousin Matt, grateful that she had his number on speed dial.

Handy having a cop in the family. So what if he’d find nothing amiss and tease her about being a chicken or needle her about her good imagination. She wasn’t taking any chances. Not like that girl in the news last week.

On second thought, Matt probably wouldn’t laugh.

What Goes Around…

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is BOOMERANG

Friendship’s like a boomerang
when you give a friendly smile
you’ll find it coming back to you
as you trudge some weary mile.

–Author unknown to me
Verse from an old Friendship Book

The word BOOMERANG comes from an Australian aboriginal language; its appearance in the English language was in the 1820s. However, the concept of things coming back to you is ancient.

In Galatians 6:7 the Apostle Paul writes, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap.” Whether you’ve done good or bad; the Lord rewards you for your actions.

Even farther back, Solomon wrote “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” Eccl 11:1 This being written in the more positive sense.

Hinduism and Buddhism teach a system of karma, whereby the good you do sets in motion a chain of actions that rewards or punishes you by your lot in the next life. In general, Good or bad luck, viewed as resulting from one’s actions,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

In our day we’ve boiled it down to “What goes around, comes around.” We could even mention Bobby Burns’ “The best laid plans of mice and man go oft astray.”

Boomerang, in my mind, carries a more negative sense. Like getting hit in the back of the head by the boomerang you threw at someone else. Or like the fellow who planned to rob a store by crawling through the heating duct late one Saturday night. Plans went awry when he got stuck and there he stayed until the store opened Monday morning and police were called to investigate.

Constable About

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was MICROCOSM

This is a word I’ve never really understood and never used—I find it hard enough to spell — but I dutifully checked it and came up with “a miniature representation” of a greater thing, “a little world” unto itself that typifies a greater society, or  “a community or other unity that is an epitome of a larger one.” (The last being from Merriam-Webster.)

I suppose you could say that “Amazon authors are a microcosm of writers the world over.” And I hope I’m using it rightly in the following example.

I’ve started reading another of Nicholas Rhea’s “Constable” books. I read this delightful series twenty years ago, when Bob’s mom lived with us. I borrowed them for her, along with the Miss Read books, from the local library. Simple fiction stories divided into cases or incidents, replete with amusing, mild and friendly characters, though some are a trial to the poor constable and his colleagues.

The Yorkshire village where Constable Nick Rhea lived and worked was a microcosm of village life in counties all across England in the 40s and 50s. There are a number of books in this series, which, I understand, was made into a British TV series in the 60s:
Constable Goes to Market
Constable on the Prowl
Constable Over the Style
Constable Versus Greengrass (An amiable “opportunist”, poacher & general layabout)
Constable at the Dam
Constable Under the Gooseberry Bush
And more

Prize-winning gooseberry bushes that must be protected feature first in the Constable in the Dale book I’m reading now. This is followed by the vicar’s successful, if sometimes embarrassing, porker-producing enterprise starring the lovely “White Lily.”

If you like a touch of rural England that’s both nostalgic and a great picture of human nature, do check out these books. I’m delighted to discover that the e-book versions are all free on Kindle Unlimited.