Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Are we system(at)ically imprisoned to violence?

I had intended to spend a few moments today commenting on the forthcoming inauguration of our new U.S. President, Barack Obama. While I am excited for his leadership, I am leery of power brokers in politics, because the proverb of history seems true. "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Further, promises do not guarantee actions. And, even President Obama's best hopes and intentions will be framed within a political system of persons and power and nations that will undoubtedly frustrate any goals he may have.

But I digress . . . .

I had intended to blog about "Gitmo" or Guantanamo Bay and the President's reported intentions to close it quickly after his inauguration. (I realize sometime soon I need to learn how to include links in these blog posts - I will learn.)

I had intended to offer some reflection on the "system" of incarceration generally, prisons, "correctional facilities." I had intended to take some time reviewing material I am generally aware of - have read in the past - but would explore further - from Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon to Michel Foucault's Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison.

It seems to me that inherent in the "systems" of imprisonment are patterns of violence - and certainly the corrupt systems of imprisonment evidence exceeding violence.

But, I am distracted this morning.

The headlines of today (January 14, 2009) report that after nearly a decade of violent attempts to kill him! - Osama Bin Laden is still alive and advocating violent action against Israel. And, some persons in Lebanon join from north of Israel bombing sites in Israel - it appears joining in the volley of efforts coming from south of Israel in the area of Gaza. Israel violently retaliates, unquestionably killing the "perpetrators" of the violence in their own violence, while also killing and injuring thousands of innocents.




The violence of Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden - bring death.

The violence of campaigns against terrorist organizations - brings death.

The violence of Governments - brings death.

The violence of incarceration (so called "just" and certainly unjust) - bring death.

The violence of a volley of rockets - brings death.

The violence of retaliation - brings death.

When and how can we learn to unmask the myth(s) of violence and bring good to all?

Is it possible that we are ourselves part of systems of violence that, perhaps - unknowingly - imprison us. Is this the only way? Can we not think in other ways?

We must find better ways if not the most excellent way.

Our death depends upon it.

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. It seems, in my view, that we live, function, and are at the core violent creatures. violence is the ultimate paradigm that we function in. You did a good job of pointing that out. Even in the common life violence abounds. violence towards nature, violence towards other animals, violence in our learning and correcting, and violence in our protection of others. I am so imprisoned that even in the hope I participate in, I realize that I am still participating in the violence around me and inside me.