Sunday, August 07, 2011
It happens sometimes, that something is brought to my attention that I've never thought of. I love when it does happen, because I'm all about learning new things. You know how the old "Cheers" character "Cliff Claven" knew a tiny bit of everything? "Useless trivia" is the term that comes to mind. I'm kinda like that...and probably just as annoying!
Have you ever thought of what happens to prisoners who are given life sentences? What happens when they grow old and die? Are they just alone in their cell? What about prisoners who develop cancer, or MS, or Parkinsons, or any of the other ailments that strike the rest of our civilian population? Those things are difficult to deal with out in the real world, I can't imagine how a prisoner deals with them.
So the other night I watched a documentary about a prison. "Serving Life", which aired on the OWN network, is about a hospice program set up in Louisiana's maximum security prison at Angola. The prisoners housed here are the worst of the worst. They have murdered, raped, and committed every heinous crime you can think of, and they die there. Most are serving life sentences. Some have changed their hearts, but that doesn't change their circumstances. They still have to serve out their sentence.
These are big, tough, sometimes scary looking men. They've been involved in horrible crimes, but each has volunteered to work in the prison's hospice program. At the beginning of the show, you can see it: some are wanting to get involved only for something to do. Yeah, they'll be helping someone else, but is that really why they're there? They're tough. They can do this stuff. After all, most of them have killed. But what they don't realize is how their world, the whole way the think about life, death and dignity will be forever changed. They learn about compassion. TRUE compassion. You cannot care for someone day in and day out, cleaning all manner of bodily fluids from their beds, helping them bathe, change dressings on bed sores, watch them say goodbye to the few loved ones who still care, or struggle to breath in their last moments...it is hard to do those things without compassion. Most of these men had never known what "compassion" meant. Now they know.
"Serving Life" I highly recommend it.