By Tanis Helliwell
I have a fantasy, well actually I have lots of fantasies, but I would like to share one of them with you. My opinion could stir up some feelings for you, so better take a seat. Many of our governing systems are not working. For a long time now I have felt that one of the problems of our society is that we do not expect people to live up to their responsibilities and that we continually support the worst, not the best, in people. I would like to examine the prison, welfare, and disability systems in more detail.
Alternatives to our Present Prison System
Our prison system is not working. Criminal activity and violence is on the increase and prisoner’s being able to watch violent movies and having wonderful meals in jail, while contributing nothing to society is not the answer. It costs an average of $100,000 a year to keep one prisoner in jail and could this money not be better spent?
A little while ago a friend sent me an email about a Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona who has worked out his own system for how to make criminals contributing members of society. It deserves repeating. Maricopa County was spending $18 million a year caring for stray cats and dogs when Sheriff Joe offered to take over the department. The animal shelters are now staffed and operated by prisoners. Prisoners feed and care for the strays and have become experts in animal nutrition and actually give classes for individuals who want to adopt an animal. Prisoners even walk each animal twice daily. The best part is that his budget is only $3 million. The prisoners receive $0.28 an hour for working, but most would work for free, just to be out of their cells.
This is not Sheriff Joe’s first radical idea. He runs a large farm where inmates can work and grow their own vegetables as well as a hog farm, which provides meat and fertilizer. He created a Tent City Jail where the meals cost just 40 cents and the inmates must pay for them. By the way he dresses the inmates top to bottom in pink, even pink boxer shorts. He stopped smoking and porno magazines and coffee in the jails. When inmates complained about not having coffee he replied, “This isn’t the Ritz/Carlton… and if you don’t like it, don’t come back.” He started chain gangs so inmates could do free work on county and city projects and these included women so women would be treated equally. He wanted to cut out cable TV in jail but found that there was a court order that required cable TV hook-up in jails. Sheriff Joe’s response was to hook up only the weather channel and the Disney channel.
And what do the electors think of Sheriff Joe? He was re-elected last year with 83% of the vote. Like him, or hate him, these ideas seem to be working and at least they are an alternative to the present unworkable system in most jails.
Do We Fare Well with Welfare?
Countless studies have demonstrated that if we reward bad behaviour, we will get more of it. That is just plain common sense. SOOO. If we want people to contribute their time and energy to the common good, why do we give them money for not working? That is what our welfare program does. Granted, there are some individuals, such as single or abused mothers, that might need “temporary” assistance however the emphasis needs to be on the word temporary. The problem we have currently is that many able-bodied individuals are on life-time support. After three generations of being a welfare state in Canada we can see that people on welfare raise many more children who also go on welfare. Welfare, for the majority of people, keeps them in a childlike, dependant state. Often people on welfare have low self-esteem and suffer from depression and much of this is caused because they are not contributing to the good of others. So welfare does not create happiness for people who receive it and it creates a larger burden for those who work. Hence welfare does not work.
Furthermore, I would suggest that many people who are on disability and not working because of depression, anxiety and other neurosis would do better if they had a reason to get up every day. A job to do. Someone and a world to help. Yes, one could say that there are physical causes and brain chemistry that might cause some emotional and/or mental dehabilitating conditions. However, two decades of hard scientific research has proven time and time again that our thoughts, to a great extent, determine our physical condition, be it good or bad. I believe that if we have too much time on our hands we tend to dwell on our problems. Whereas, if we are busy and needed in the world, we more often rise to the occasion.
And each of us is needed. Each of us is here for a purpose to learn and grow, to give and love others more, to caretake the world in whichever way that we are called. Tough love is not a lack of love, but love with discernment, and that is what I am advocating. My statements might run contrary to common thinking and you might disagree with them. That’s fine because you might think of good examples of how to cure these problems. All of us need to examine what is not working and have the courage, like Sheriff Joe, to experiment with new ways to deal with our current societal ills. My recommendation is acting with love combined with discernment.
Tanis Helliwell, a mystic in the modern world, has brought spiritual consciousness into the mainstream for over 30 years. Since childhood, she has seen and heard elementals, angels, and master teachers in higher dimensions. Tanis is the founder of the International Institute for Transformation (IIT), which offers programs to assist individuals to become conscious creators to work with the spiritual laws that govern our world.
Tanis is the author of Summer with the Leprechauns, Pilgrimage with the Leprechauns, Embraced by Love, Manifest Your Soul’s Purpose, Decoding Your Destiny and Take Your Soul to Work.
For information on our courses and meditation retreats please visit www. iitransform.com