Here’s a particular train of thought. I was listening to a news story about adjusting sentencing requirements for convicted criminals. I had one of my typical responses, a moment of sadness at the thought of the victims of violent crimes and such, and then the thought that sentences were consequential to these (yes, “guilty”) people’s futures, even to their sense of humanity. And then the thought of the ravaging effects of years of mandatory drug sentences, for example, feeding a prison industrial monster and, in many ways, dooming lives and hurting communities. And then, bitterness that the white collar schemers, the Wall Street manipulators and shady big bankers, whose crimes are obscured by systems of respectability, but whose corruption usually does broader damage to society, escape prosecution scot free. And then, realizing we are all complicit in systems of evil, of injustice, of de-imago-ization, of contributing to pain and death by our decision-making, indulgence, or complacency and neglect. And then, moving out of the abstract, how despite my best efforts and all my theory/logy and such as a teacher and academic and church worker, I have reproduced so much hurt and hierarchy, so much exclusion and emptiness, by cutting words and misspent resources, by lustful acquisitions and flagrant wastefulness, by favoring the rich and mocking the down-trodden.
And then, the ashes feel right tonight.