Most people, whether they know it or not, wouldn't argue against an organized society full of enrichment; enrichment of favorable chances. How you set yourself apart from the normal perception of your culture, your ethnicity, and the tragic pitfall of the illusional ruthless perception of life- the idea that you are a victim of failure if you don't succeed on the first or second try- will define your destiny. It is not society that sets anyone up for failure, it's the mindset that society controls your drive to be ambitious and successful. I can't imagine looking back on life and saying, "Dear Society, thank you for ruining my life..."
It had to be 1998 when I really understood the power of societal influence. I'd never seen so much control exerted over someone simply on the premises of acceptance and pity. I dare not call a family member out; that's not the intention or purpose of this post. However, the illustration is very real. The probability of meeting someone that can impact your livelihood for better or for worse, is very high. Moreover, the probability of meeting someone in the criminal institution we call "prison" and presuming that they will somehow influence your life in a positive way is more doomed for failure and problematic than any of the later.
When I was younger, I experienced what criminals are truly like for a brief time; please forgive me for the term if it offends you. I've watched the co-habitation of mindsets that are completely stuck in "plotting" for the quick fix to get ahead. Watching the life of criminals within my family taught me what distruction truly means. I witnessed deception, violence, and panic playout in one solitary picture that never once lead to anything positive but somehow always lead to a lot of blame. It's a fascinatingly devastating reality to realize that some people truly can look beyond their own destructive actions and place responsibility on anything and anyone but themselves.
The disturbing behaviors of a criminal-mind play-out in the most destructive ways. A criminal continues to seek felonious acts to satisfy their sickness to conform to taking what they feel society owes them. It's a mindset foolish enough to believe that the only forgiveness for shortcomings or failure is to take and ruin what anyone else has that they envy. Society doesn't create criminals, circumstance and influence does; those are not people they are actions.
A couple of weeks ago I was working at the gym, and a mother was riding the bike in front of me, while talking on the phone. I tried not to listen to her conversation, but it was difficult not to. She was talking about her son; telling the person on the other line that he wasn't going to be anything but a criminal like his father before he even turned fifteen. I listened to the disgust and certainty in her voice as she talked about the reasons her fourteen year old son was failing to be a prosperous young man with the potential for a bright future. She pointed the finger at his father and then his schooling; from there she blamed rappers and "his ignorant hood friends", as she distastefully put it. I begin to shake my head as I walked away. That mother labeled her son a criminal; she set his potential at fourteen to nothing more than an orange jumpsuit. I could be wrong, but I imagined that she talked the same in his presence because she felt no shame talking that way in the public eye. What a shame to give-up on less than two decades of living, on a life you created; what a shame to face such a vast amount of potential problems vs potential opportunities in society without hope.
I thought back to my family members who'd been labeled criminals; thought back to why someone would mate with an inmate and then bring them home knowing that it is likely a futile relationship. After many years of knowing them, I realized somewhere along the way they lost hope. They lost hope that anyone saw them as anything differently than that label that they should've shed or left back in some locked file cabinet with tarnished sheets and fading ink.
I'm not sure that we can rehabilitate the mind of some criminals, but I do believe that a mindset without the belief that society has just as much good as bad will forever remained chained to the label of criminal. Not just the actual criminal defined by law, but the criminal that steals their own opportunities or the opportunities of others simply by degrading their possibility at living a quality life.
Each and every one of us deserves a chance at bettering ourselves. Not through a production of excuses and expected obligation because of race, sexuality, or status- but because we are fortunate enough to live in a society that holds valuable opportunities. Surround yourself with people that help you grow. We live in a society of more than criminal-minds.