Culture and Society
I walked slowly up Mill Hill Road in Woodstock, New York. A rope tied my feet together; another bound my hands. A third rope, around my waist, was attached to the woman in front of me. A black hood covered my face. The rest of my wardrobe was an orange jumpsuit, like the ones worn by prisoners at Guantánamo Bay.
Unless you show up to write, you don’t get to experience the heartache and the joy of writing; you don’t get to drop into a place without words and then, miraculously, find just the right words for what you discover there.
It’s not like in the movies. That stuff really happens, but it doesn’t all happen in an hour and a half, in three acts that build to a dramatic conclusion, like it does on the big screen. You think it’s going to be exactly like that, especially after you’ve been convicted and sentenced, and you’re still being housed at the county jail, and some guy asks if you’ve ever been to the “pen.”
War and peace start in the hearts of individuals. Strangely enough, even though all beings would like to live in peace, our method for obtaining peace over the generations seems not to be very effective: we seek peace and happiness by going to war. This can occur at the level of our domestic situation, in our relationships with those close to us.
I lived in Berkeley and worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a nuclear-weapons research lab, where I developed computer war simulations. On Sundays I went with my girlfriend to Quaker meetings, where people sat in each other’s company without the pressure to speak. One Sunday some fellow congregants asked if I wanted to join a protest at Livermore Lab. I told them I had to work that day. No one asked me where.
Besides the bananas, my dad raises chickens and grows red ginger and marijuana. I’m not sure how large his drug operation is or how much money he makes. I know that he smokes a lot of pot, but not so much for recreational purposes. It’s more about testing his wares. He rolls joints. He doesn’t own a bong, hookah, pipe, chillum, vaporizer, scale, dugout system, grinder, or steamroller. He’s old school.
The justice system is so capricious that if you were to read all of my case files and try to guess which defendants got death sentences, you could never do it based on the facts.