Nov 22 2012

Hungry for Food… and Attention

Sometimes a crumb falls
From the tables of joy,
Sometimes a bone
Is flung.

To some people
Love is given,
To others
Only heaven

Luck by Langston Hughes

by Richard Ross (for Juvenile-in-Justice)

On this Thanksgiving day, I am thinking again about the truth that all humanity is interconnected. I am also thinking today of the millions of people across the U.S. who are locked behind bars.

I am cooking this morning for about 20 people. I have taken a short break to write. A young prisoner who I correspond with sent me a letter a couple of weeks ago. In it, he mentioned that he is “always hungry” in prison. He can’t get filled up. He meant this literally and metaphorically. The food in prison, as I have written about before, is mostly terrible. So prisoners are in fact often physically hungry. But that is only one type of hunger. The young man wrote of his hunger for attention too. He had frayed relations with his family prior to being incarcerated. Those ties have only become more tenuous now that he finds himself in prison. He is profoundly lonely.

On this Thanksgiving day, I hope that you will spare a thought for the millions of people imprisoned across the U.S. I hope that you will send them positive energy. I hope that you will recognize that their fate is inextricably linked to yours.

On this day of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the knowledge that my humanity is inexorably bound to that of prisoners across the world. When they are harmed or dehumanized, so am I and so too are those who are carrying out that harm. I make sure to remind myself and others of this every day.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!