Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Criminal Next-Door

I am the criminal in your midst
and you dont see me.
You look past me-
because I am unsightly.
I smell-
because I haven't a place to bathe.
I am hungry-
because I cannot buy food.
I have no job-
because I am too much of a risk.
No place to rest my head-
because I am an embarrassment to my family.
I see no hope and purpose to my life-
because no one cares to touch my soul.

For me, the child of two American born parents,
as were my four grandparents.
So at minimum - Third generation American born,
yet a second class citizen none-the-less.
There are millions of my “brothers and sisters”
who fall in the same group.
We are parents,
neighbors,
children,
and criminals.
Convicted of crimes against society by our justice system
and punished by serving time in jails and prisons.
However, the punishment continues far beyond the legal system.
We are kept from improving ourselves with education,
refused housing, denied jobs.
In truth, we are marginalized,
and you don’t see us.

Millions of your fellow Americans
condemned to pay for their crimes
for the remainder of their lives.

Will you help us break the chains of addiction,
poverty, homelessness, exclusion, loneliness,
and help us find ways of meaningful participation?

Isaiah 58:6-8, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice, and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

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