When I revealed what I believe to be a simple truth of existence, I had a considerable portion of the prison dormitory utterly infuriated. Before I inform you as to the details of the transaction, I would like to issue the following disclaimer. I am an American man of African ancestry and a #AllLivesMatter view-holding humanitarian who is cognizant of the fact that all lives can’t matter until Black Lives Matter.
Having thus set the tone, our story begins with a common occurrence that takes place in millions of homes across the globe — viewing the evening news. On this particular evening, the screen displayed what appeared to be a Black man getting repeatedly shot in the back by at least one of two officers. These officers were attempting to prevent the man from entering the driver’s side of a vehicle that was later revealed to contain his children, witnesses to the officers’ apparent crime of attempted murder.
Some fellow prisoners, undoubtedly like many other viewers irrespective of location, ethnicity or life station, were shocked, appalled and outraged. Immediately following the news, my cellmate “Vick the Barber” expressed these same sentiments. I relayed to him that I understood exactly how he felt. And at the risk of appearing to be an inconsiderate, insensitive blowhard, I also shared my view, not only about the incident at hand but about the reality of our universe. I said the unthinkable. I said the man had gotten what he deserved. I know how it sounds. I sound like a Black Klansman. But let me explain.
In my desperate attempt to find meaning in an unpredictable life of seemingly disordered and unjust experiences, I stumbled upon a simple fact of human existence contained in Eckhart Tolle’s book “A New Earth,” which exposes readers to the eye-opening perspective that every experience that a person has “is necessary for the development of our consciousness.”
When one reflects on their own life, we soon find that we are undereducated, hence the adage “you live and you learn.” The spiritual guide “The Urantia Book” tells us that the universe is a university “wherein each event in a person’s life is just another module of the lesson plan.” What’s so great about this is that, as a result of the prerogatives of free will, our decisions enable us to choose our curriculum in this universe of cause and effect. All of this is to say that to determine an occurrence to be an injustice, no matter how apparent, is to simply not have all the facts.
When what is recognizable as injustice or tragedy befalls a person, the reason it appears as such is because we have isolated the event from the causes and contributing factors. Ultimately, life makes sense. This plus this equals that. Even the variables will be eventually “solved.” The reason I and myriads of others have found ourselves in prison is because we made the decisions that we either knew or should have known would carry with them undesirable consequences and restrictive sanctions.
As far as situations which didn’t seem to warrant a particular consequence — such as the above scenario wherein the simple act of a Black man walking away from officers resulted in him getting shot in the back multiple times — no, it does not follow that the police, of all people, should attempt to murder a fellow citizen. Only a man of certain celestial intelligence can know the true cause of any karmic effect. But I believe that the events in a person’s life are wholly necessary for educational purposes, individually and collectively. And though we all get exactly what we deserve, provisions are made for the operation of grace and mercy. The very definition of grace is “undeserved kindness.” So even though we get what we deserve, in many cases, what we reap is often not as bad as what we sowed. In the event of the sowing of a good deed, we reap more abundant harvests that we could have ever imagined.
So what, then, should all prisoners abandon their legal appeals with the resigned attitude of one content with their lot, knowing that they themselves are the key factors in the decisions that ultimately lead people to prison? No. Rather, by all means, begin to sow good seeds that will help to create another reality. The universe’s mechanisms of cause and effect are ever operational alongside grace and mercy. They allow for each person to co-create a reality, which trudges an irreversible path to perfection. So please, brothers and sisters everywhere, continue in your struggles for the liberation of yourselves and others, be it through the vehicle of legal appeals, benevolent acts of kindness and or undying service to any member or group of the fraternal order of humanity. Know that in so doing, we are likewise serving life itself.
In keeping with this ordeal, months later it was revealed that the famed victim of police brutality ended up paralyzed from the waist down but was awarded a multimillion dollar settlement from the municipality where he and his family resided and where the fateful event occurred. Though we all know or will inevitably find that while money isn’t everything, it can make living this life a little more comfortable and material strivings a tad more attainable for its possessor and their loved ones. I was glad to make this report to my compatriots with the same matter-of-fact observation; that the man had gotten no less than what he deserved. The moral of the story: life is infinitely just, with grace and mercy for all. How many ages must pass before we treat one another in this regard?
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.