so this morning Halle Berry [well not quite, Michelle someone, but she looked a bunch like Halle… no, I’m not saying that the speaker looked like Halle which if you say it out loud is a  lot more humourful but moving on] gave a standing ovation worthy [not from me cos great amazing speech and all but i tend to keep my standing for Jesus unless something really does something different to me] talk on the topic of incarceration and it really was incredibly good and gave a lot of insight and [shocking] information on the topic but for most of the talk i was sitting there thinking internally ‘okay i get it – we have a big bad bag of smelly poo here – i really get it – but please don’t leave me with a big bad smelly bag of poo – tell me something i can do about it’ – and towards the end she did a little bit but then there was a panel afterwards [with her on it] that dug a little bit deeper and got a little bit more practical and story-full on the what we can do aspect [although she called for a movement, so pretty much something huge is needed cos the issue is so flippen smelly-bag-of-poo big and bad!] but ja quite a heavy topic. i didn’t take a lot of notes cos it was needing to be munched as a whole rather than appreciated as sound bytes, but did get a few thoughts:

# Charity is not enough. We have to work for justice!

# We have to take on the system.

# There needs to be [and I’ve thought this for years] a shift from a punitive approach when it comes to incarceration to a more compassionate and restorative approach! 

The system is the way it is… but it’s not the way it has to be… Such a powerful statement which a group or tribe or nation need to take on for it to gain much momentum [o a congregation, denomination, fraternal or city-wide collection of church congregations i guess]

# I liked this one – we have to care for the victim… AND the perpetrator AND the community… 

Michelle told a story of speaking in a church and saying “We’re all sinners” and everyone cheered… and then a little later she said “We’re all criminals” and there was silence… [but think about it – speeding, pirating, tax stuff etc etc – a large majority of us have committed criminal acts] so there seems to be this huge aspect of shame linked to being a criminal or even having that in the past…

What hit me was what someone commented to her: “How come we are so eager to admit we violate God’s laws, but shamed when it comes to mans.” Oof, right between the eyes!

Yeah. A lot of work to be done here. And going to take a concerted effort from a unified group of people and groups. So good to hear from some people on the panel who are working with prisoners, and former prisoners in various ways. Some inspiring people.

[For most powerful samplings of this evening click here]