It’s that time of the year when I step back from my keyboard, post my usual, bilingual Happy Holidays message at my blog, and shuffle off for a week or so for an end-of-the-year break.
So this is a good time to wish all of you Happy Holidays and a healthy and prosperous New Year. Won’t it be great to have 2009 in our rear view mirror?
This is a time of year when I want particularly to remember all of those in the US who are imprisoned. There are about 2 million people incarcerated. My work in real life is being a criminal defense lawyer. I’ve done this work for more than thirty years, and I’m passionate about it (that is the subject of an upcoming essay in 2010 about Gideon v. Wainwright and me). Sometimes I fail; sometimes my clients go to prison. Some go for very, very long periods of time. My clients who have been convicted and imprisoned, I have discovered, are not much different from me. But their lives are far harder. The prison walls keep them in while they serve their time, but the walls also keep me and you out, isolating those who are locked up and making it likely, unless they are our immediate family or close friends, that we might forget that they are imprisoned. Many who are locked up are estranged from their families, and if they’re not, they might be far away from them geographically. So this time of year increases their suffering. There can, it turns out, be extreme loneliness even in the midst of complete, institutional lack of privacy. And suffering can be increased even by monotony. Anyway, particularly at this time of year, I hope that we can pause for just a moment and remember those who are behind the walls. And that they are just like us. And wish for them happiness and a cessation of their suffering.
I’m thankful that every year there are stories like this one. I wish there were more stories like this.