What to do About the Children

I woke up early, unable to go back to sleep, so I decided to go running. I put on my running gear and poured a cup of coffee, which I figured I’d drink by the fire before leaving - and now I’m on my second cup, and fiddling with the website…

I thought I’d put a few words down about my thoughts this week: Last weekend I put a back wall in the shop. This was something I’d been meaning to do for awhile, and part of a much larger project of fully insulating, and thus enclosing the shop. In my previous post I talked about wood movement, and my desire to better control the environment of the shop is related to this. But it’s also a safety thing. I was recently burgled, and though I hated to lose the two cordless drills and my circular saw, it became good motivation for my plans.

The shop is pretty well hidden from the public eye, and if you’ve not been down to it, you’d never know it was there, but word gets around…Apparently the city of Water Valley is going through somewhat of scourge of burglaries. The police suspect these four boys, all dropouts, all without family, living together in a little house, but they’ve been unable as of yet to prove it. I was pretty angry when I first discovered the loss, since it was a time loss as well. I spent at least an hour looking for the tools, and then another hour worrying about the situation, and then four days erecting a big damned wall to keep the thing from happening again. But, to be honest, when the officer I filed a report with told me of these boys, I felt sorry for them. Though I surely wish they'd find something better to do than steal other people’s hard earned property, and they’ll probably pay for it eventually, I can’t help but feel implicated in the situation, as a member of the community which produced the situation - because every person in a community is a part of the actual fabric of the community. This sounds obvious, but it’s so easy to imagine the less savory aspects of your community as not actually being a part of it. The other side of the tracks, etc. What I mean to say is, it’s not necessarily the fault of the kids they have no parents to look after them - and it follows from that that it’s not necessarily their fault they might feel abandoned (by their community), and thus have no real loyalty to it. And really, who knows what kind of bad childhood these kids may (probably) have had.

It’s funny how it’s easier to forgive a child than an adult. If it were four full grown men living in a house together, going around stealing things, there would be less of a tendency to question the situation. They’d simply be bad dudes, who belong in prison. I think there’s the sense that once a person becomes an adult, he’s responsible for his choices, but when he’s a child, he is somehow the product of other people’s choices. But when really does this shift of responsibility occur? An adult is only an older child, and he is not separated from his youth. All of the things that led him to the decisions of his youth are still in him.

So, I’m sitting here like a sap feeling sorry for the lives of people who ripped me off. My wife and I sometimes argue about forgiveness: if it’s actually a useful practice. Her stance is that it’s not; forgiveness leads to recidivism. I believe that whether or not it’s actually useful, it’s essential, not so much for the offender, as for the offended. Hate and anger are a poison, and really only lead to hateful action, thus perpetuating the cycle of ugliness. I think that both approaches to forgiveness are pretty hard to tow sometimes: i.e., what if the offender is a child; or on the other side of it, a child molester.

At the end of the day, people really must pay for themselves (even if there is a single thread leading from their actions back to the actions of their parents), because things must be answered for, and who else will pay? I forgive the kids, and I really pray they’re doing alright. But I hope they don’t come back, because the first choice is the choice of a child, and the second is that of a man. And a man pays the man’s price!