TWENTY YEARS AGO
Hal Pepinsky, firstname.lastname@example.org, pepinsky.blogspot.com
August 22, 2010
It humbles me to look back at how I concluded a book twenty years ago, The Geometry of Violence and Democracy. In yesterday’s blog I quoted a prophecy that east/west cold war split in 1990 would turn into a north-south polarization between white folks and southern people of color. Here I copy from the geometry book. I first copy the last 2 paragraphs of the book’s penultimate chapter on “speaking freely with children as a path to peace.” Then I excerpt from the final four paragraphs of the book’s conclusion. I notice that my conclusions have not changed. What haven’t I learned in twenty years?
From the geometry book, p. 122:
There is no shortcut to peace. We cannot raise our children undemocratically and expect them to know how to create democratic plans and policies on a grand scale, let alone in workplaces and homes on a small scale.
Earlier I dwelled at length on the causes and consequences of violence. Violence is a common preoccupation of us criminologists. When, as now, I struggle to envision the opposite of violence, I can think of no more meaningful or more vivid setting for it than in adult-child interaction. Ageism is the ultimate barrier to peace. While I can dream far-our dreams of how to reorganize life on a grander scale, as for police, my daily life with children makes change more tangible, more concrete, more manageable. It is a good place to start one’s journey toward peace.
At pp. 128-129, I concluded:
I came to criminology believing that crime was a behavior, and trying to find it and define it. I now understand that crime is at root a relationship among human spirits. We may at any time and place proscribe behavior because we impute invariant motives to actors and those they act toward, but these legal conventions are at best imperfect approximations of the defects in relationships among human motives that truly concern us. With the understanding that the interaction of motives is the real issue, political ambiguities of defining crime are wiped away. Only then can the fundamental antithesis of crime be given forme, only then can life free of crime be articulated and planned.
….Most of us will die convinced that the truth we have invested in the more heavily in our lives remains the truth, and frightened that those who survive us don’t know it….I’d like to die thinking people are still learning.
Looking back twenty years, I’m a little embarrassed that I haven’t learned much better than I knew or imagined back then. Love and peace--hal