The celebrated University of Chicago philosopher Martha Nussbaum just dropped a new book on anger and its uses and abuses: Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice. Her essential thesis is that anger, while initially useful for demolishing what doesn’t work, is ultimately a flawed tool for designing public policy or changing people.
Anger has embedded in it the idea of payback, she contends. And the payback idea represents a kind of magical thinking. It imagines that by having the perpetrator of a crime suffer, the victim or the victim’s family is helped. That’s a fallacy–there’s no evidence to suggest that backward-looking retribution repairs any of the harm done, Nussbaum says.
She does believe that prison terms are necessary, but only as a way to prevent future crime. In all of this, she draws on the work of our Greek friends Socrates, Seneca, and Aeschylus, who considered anger the province of the weak-minded. She does see a place for “transitional” anger that motivates people to lobby for future-oriented solutions that prevent the harm from happening again. That is, you might use dynamite to clear the lot, but you need bricks and mortar to build the house. To read the rest of this post at “Life on the List” click here
See what CSI was up to at the NC Reentry Summit on March 11. View the Video
Communicating Effectively With Your Legislator
Don’t be intimidated. Legislators are in the business of representing the public’s interest. A significant part of their job is listening to people like you.
Ask to speak briefly with the legislator. If the legislator is not in his or her office, ask for their contact information and leave the Second Chance Alliance Action Request with the secretary.
Address the legislators as “Representative ____” or “Senator _____.”
Introduce yourself clearly. Tell the legislator your name, where you are from, and why you are there. If you are a member of their district, it is especially important for you to let them know.
Share your reentry story and/or support for second chances. This is the most important thing you can do on Second Chance Lobby Day. In just 2 or 3 minutes, describe the barriers that you have faced as a result of your criminal record, why the legislator should try to address these barriers, and how you would use (or have used) your second chance. If you do not have a criminal record, please describe why you support lowering barriers to reentry.
Be specific. Suggest actions the legislator might take, including specific bills he or she should support. Use the Second Chance Alliance Action Request as a guide.
Listen, and always be respectful. Listen to what the legislator has to say, even if you do not agree with what he or she is saying. You can state facts or personal stories to support your opinion, but try to avoid arguing with the legislator.
Share Action Request. Be sure to leave the legislator with a copy of the Second Chance Alliance Action Request.