In Puritan America, a married woman’s illicit affair with a minister landed her in jail. After her release, Hester Prynne was sentenced to forever wear a big red “A” on her dress. 

Nearly 375 years later, the U.S. continues to be scandalized, tantalized and perplexed by sex, especially about sex offenders. Tough on crime, we’re still struggling to learn: 

  • Why domestic violence and incest are so under-reported by victims? 
  • Why most people think every sexual offender is a serial rapist? 
  • Why, even among therapists, many continue to believe sex-offenders to be untreatable? 
  • Why supervision after offenders’ release tends to-wards punitive rather than restorative? 

It’s time to bring the subject of sex crime out of the dark ages, time to help victims shed the shame and trauma of their experience. It’s also time to allow offenders an opportunity to show they can change, make amends and start to earn back trust and acceptance from society.

When We Believe We're Different

When We Believe We're Different

The attached photo was taken a few days ago, in Texas, and the people there are apparently “different” enough from us that:

  • Our government and law enforcement cage them under bridges, surrounded by razor wire, subjected to a rain of pigeon shit from the ledges above them

  • Our media paints a picture that should engender outrage among US citizens, and

  • The public does a collective “yawn” and goes back to pretending it can’t happen to “us.”

 The photo reminded me of the internment camps during WWII, in which we forcibly held Americans of Japanese descent as prisoners of war. Or the death camps established in Europe during that same period to extinguish Jews and other undesirables. 

The photo reminds me of our treatment of African Americans for centuries, the “profiling” of people of color today, and mass incarceration of those men a symbol of racism we cannot yet atone for. 

These genocidal tendencies allowed us to kill, poison, and incarcerate (on so-called reservations) Native Americans for centuries, while  carving up their traditional lands and giving them away, free, to white settlers.

 In the face of this, we individuals seem desperate to navigate our own lives of conflict and bias while while engaging a more active conscience.

Confronting our own “shadow” does ask us to look at our own tendency to classify things, and people, as “different”.

Finding success at that, can we also see ourselves as a work in progress, as opposed to hopelessly lost or, conversely, irrefutably without flaw?

Can we then learn to surf on the face of an endless wave between peaks of great insight and compassion, and troughs of blindness and cruelty?

There are dozens of effective methods for transforming this psychology of difference. Some are spiritually based, others behavioral. Any of them can work, if we employ the following :

  • intention

  • skills

  • practice

  • awareness

  • compassion

Hope Dashed and Reignited

ATSA Issues Positive Book Review

ATSA Issues Positive Book Review