I have often wondered how deep compassion could run. How far can you transgress before you loose your humanity and all the rights and privileges there of? I have somehow found myself working with perps: rapists, child molesters, drug addicts and dealers, thieves, murderers, pimps and prostitutes. For many of the upstanding citizens of our society these are the throw aways, the untouchables.
What amazes me is that I spend 40 hours a week in their presence and rarely think of them this way. Each of them possess the wants and needs that we all have. They want to be seen, understood and loved. Don’t get me wrong, it would be unsafe to forget that the man with which I spent half an hour chatting pleasantly about the real estate market, stabbed his mother in a murder attempt. The challenge is holding two opposing facts in your head at the same moment. Yes, this person has done blank, and I choose to treat him as would like to be treated.
What I have learned is that there is always another side of the story. There really is not much space between victims and perps. You have to make allowances for aberration, but for the most part perpetrators were victims themselves suffering unspeakable things. This does not take the responsibility of their actions from them. It rather helps us to understand the process by which the things they do make sense to them. We then make strides to prevent such atrocities in the future.
Being the change you want to see seems to fit. So often I encounter those who in a state of righteous indignation become the same or worse than the villain at their door. The real question is not “Are they still human?” but “Are we humane?” Because as much as we try to distance ourselves from this truth, all of those horrible, disturbing acts are a part of the human condition.