Yesterday I pulled out Heritage Prayer Book given to me by a nun with whom I attended a Catholic college over 50 years ago. Sister entered the order of the nuns who taught at college and remains in the order to this day. Perusing the pages, looking for just the right words to raise my spirit to God, I experienced a slow deflation of purpose. The words that kept repeating themselves in devotion after devotion shrank my soul. The words, “contrition, rejection, abnegation, sorrow, humiliation, suffering” could not be the only words that those nuns of 60 years ago and those of today exemplify. I remember my teachers of old as women of great passion and energy for those things that elevated the human spirit – learning, culture, spirituality and caring (loving). The whole juxtaposition of words and actions made me think.
That morning I read an article in the Times that reported that the major crime rate in New York City had been declining for years. Although no statistical correlation has been made to date, the most reasonable explanation for this phenomenon is that New York City has put an emphasis on spending money for police on the streets rather than on spending money on building more jail cells.
The result has been that more people have been arrested for minor things like burglary, jumping turn stiles, marijuana possession, etc. These people have spent little time in jail thus turning over jail cells more rapidly. Best of all, the minor law breakers are not becoming major ones. The immediate benefits are obvious. However, a deeper reason may be operating subrosa. As humans, we need boundaries. If law enforcement persons help to provide that in society, everyone benefits.
Perhaps, like the nuns, if we remember to be a little humble, to accept suffering a little graciously, etc. we will become more cultured and more caring. We will become possitive power brokers.