Monday, August 22, 2005

Highs and Lows

This past weekend we went to the HSC conference in Sacramento--the annual homeschool conference I have been attending for the past seven years. The kids and Paul have been going for the last three or four. It was a great conference! My highlight was hearing Julia Butterfly Hill speak. She was *so* inspiring. "So you're inspired," she tells her audience. "But what are you inspired *to do?*" She is the only person I've heard address the problem in a positive way of do-good burnout. It's so easy, when you start digging into the injustices of this world, to throw your hands up in despair and say that we'll never make any headway, the stakes are just too high, there's too much work to be done, the opposition is too great. She says it's a matter of doing what you do out of love, as opposed to doing it out of hate or anger. There's a place for anger, but when you act in a positive way, it's both a source of creating community and is sustainable. She talked about losing the business model of worrying only about the outcome--doing what we do because we care, regardless of the outcome.

We listened to a CD set all the way home of some of Julia's former talks, and the whole family was inspired. Perhaps it was a good thing to listen to to prepare us for what was waiting when we got home.

There was a business card on the mailbox, and one on the front door. It said "Please call re: Mark Castle." It was from the Medical Examiner's office. This never bodes well. Mark Castle, if you haven't read from previous posts, is a homeless man we've befriended over the last year and have tried to help him get on his feet and into programs that can help him kick an addiction to heroin and help him figure out how to be a productive member of society. He got out of prison on July 31, and tried over and over again to get into a program that could help him with that.

As we were to find out later in the evening, after tracking someone down from the medical examiner's office, Mark apparently overdosed on heroin last Monday, August 15, and died. Someone near Buena Vista Park in San Francisco saw a car pull up and dump out a body. It was Mark.

Mark had been trying not to go back on methadone, since he'd gotten off it during his prison time. Perhaps he should have taken it again....but we all feel that if he could have gotten help when he asked for it. he would still be alive today. This is directly related to my earlier post, asking why we just want to punish people, and won't address the root problems. Mark was in prison for violating parole, and the original charge was for carrying a small bag of drugs. How is it that we can't see that Mark needed help, not to have his hand slapped? How does putting someone in prison help to make them a productive member of society? It would even make much more economic sense to provide enough programs for the people who need them, than to just lock them up.

I'm angry, and I'm trying to turn that into actions made out of love for Mark and others in his situation.

1 comment:

Jim Forest said...

So very sorry to hear of Mark's death! God rest his weary, battered soul. I remember meeting him while I was your guest and have often thought of him and his partner (Sherry?) How is she?