Monthly Archives: June 2015

Love and Evil are Color-Blind

Emmanuel African churchWednesday, June 21, 2015

LOVE AND EVIL ARE COLOR-BLIND

by Wayne T. Dowdy

Wednesday, June 17, 2015:  A twenty-one-year-old, white male, walked into the Emanuel African-Methodist-Episcopalian Church in Charleston, South Carolina, a church known as Mother Emanuel AME. He sat in a bible study for an hour with several  prominent members and pillars of the African-American community. One of those members was forty-one-year-old, state senator, Reverend Clemente Pinckney, who was the youngest state legislator to be elected in South Carolina at the age of twenty-three. The visitor pulled a forty-five caliber handgun and killed him and eight other people whom had welcomed him into their gathering.

He did not murder Ms. Polly Shepherd so she could tell others why he killed her peers: because they were black, had killed his ancestors, raped their women, and because blacks were trying to take over the country.

The other murder victims were twenty-six-year old, Tywanza Sanders; Ms. DePayne Middleton Doctor (49); Ms. Myra Thompson (59); Mr. Daniel Simmons Sr. (74); Ms. Susie Jackson (87); Ms. Ethel Lance (70); Ms. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton (45), an athletics coach & speech specialist; and Cynthia Hurd (54), who was the regional branch manager at the Charleston Public Library System.

The shooter wanted to start a race war. His plan failed. People of different ethnic backgrounds united and remained peaceful. No one used the situation as an opportunity to loot businesses and the community. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized, peace is more powerful than violence. Violence breeds resentment and a desire for revenge. It never ends.

CNN reported that Dylann Roof confessed to the crimes; crimes committed with the gun used to murder those people because of their ethnic background. The State of South Carolina plans to execute him for those crimes. Now his actions have become another drive for American politicians to introduce bills to take away or to restrict their citizens’ Second Amendment right to own guns, and to remove or ban the Confederate Flag from various buildings. The flag did not kill anyone.

Dylann RoofPersonally, I am saddened by the tragedy caused by the shooter’s belief system. Nine innocent people died and a young man will die for taking their lives. Years ago I would have understood the hate and racism behind such a heinous act. Evil lived within me for most of my life.* Today I do not support taking another person’s life or harming them for looking, thinking or being different, or because of something their ancestors may have done.

I believe that only one race of people exists: the human race. I base my opinion about the worth of another person on their actions; not the color of their skin, or their socioeconomic status, or their geographical location, or because of their affiliation with any organization or group. I have friends and associates who feel otherwise, blacks and whites alike. Some of whom may have rejoiced upon hearing about the Charleston Church Massacre; others who are as appalled by it as I am; and even more whose words proclaim racist beliefs, but their daily actions and behaviors do not support their words.

I do not have the gang mentality or a superiority complex. I do not fault anyone who does. To Each Their Own. Everyone has the right to be different. No one has the right to harm another person, unless to protect themselves, their loved ones, or other human beings at imminent risk of death or serious bodily injury.

DC MANSION MURDERS:  Weeks before Roof entered the church, another terrible incident had dominated the news that may have fueled his hate and rage toward blacks. At least one black male who is an immigrant, is accused of torturing, murdering, and then burning a white family and their maid in a Washington, DC Mansion. The criminal act included the murder and torture of the parents’ young son. The motive is unclear as the investigation is still in progress. Racism, or an act of class warfare may have played a role in the gruesome murders, but regardless of the motive, evil won and people died. That didn’t start a race war either.

guns save livesGUNS SAVE LIVES: The following is an excerpt from an essay I wrote in 2008 and sent to several American magazines to be considered for publication. Each editor passed on my 3,060-word essay:  “Guns Save Lives–Gun Laws Ruin Them.”

“December 10, 2007:  at approximately 12:30 A.M., twenty-two-year-old Mathew Murray walked into the Youth with a Mission Center in Arvada, Colorado, looking for overnight shelter.  After his request was denied, he pulled a pistol and fatally shot 26-year-old Tiffany Johnson and 24-year-old Phillip Crouse.  Murray fled the scene bathed in the blood of the innocent.

Armed with two handguns and a high-powered rifle, he left en route to the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He arrived at the destination at 1:10 P.M., where two sisters stood in the parking lot: Rachael and Stephanie Works, sixteen and eighteen-years-old, respectively. He shot and killed both girls with the high-powered rifle, before he entered the church with all three guns. [The murderer and his victims were white.]

Jeanne Assam was a volunteer security guard at the church. She challenged Murray to drop his weapon and shot him when he refused to comply, though, not fatally. He used his own gun to end his life.

December 11, 2007:  CNN News reported that Murray had had 1,000-rounds of ammunition in his vehicle.

If he had so much ammunition, he apparently intended on killing a lot of people. It was fortunate for the church members that Ms. Assam sat in the pews armed with her handgun. Some state laws, such as those in South Carolina, prohibit guns in a church. Ms. Assam could have been prosecuted for having the gun she used to save the masses who sat in church. According to KUSA-TV in Denver, Colorado, Murray posted the following message on a Web site between the two shooting incidents in Arvada and Colorado Springs: ‘All I want to do is kill and injure as many of you … as I can [sic] especially Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world.’  (See http://www.foxnews.com – Colorado Church Gunman Sought Revenge After He Was Kicked Out – December 11, 2007.)”

[Due to my lack of Internet access, I cannot check to see if that link is still active, but the words I wrote seven years ago about the South Carolina laws stand true. None of the victims could have lawfully possessed a gun while in the Mother Emanuel AME Bible Study. If someone in the group had had one, then perhaps nine people would not have lost their lives.]

“The outcome of the above event supports the need for gun ownership by responsible individuals who are trained in their safe usage. The other side of the equation is that without the guns, Murray could not have murdered his victims, which is partially true. He could have killed with knives or fire [such as what happened to four little girls in 1963 when racists burned a church in Birmingham, Alabama], but that does not mean that knives and matches should be outlawed by legislators, though there are some who would probably support such insane legislation.”  [“Guns Save Lives-Gun Laws Ruin Them,” Wayne T. Dowdy, 2008]

My father was a Christian who had said he wanted to die in the House of the Lord. Years later he got his wish when he died in the parking lot of his church at an Easter Revival. Perhaps the victims at the Mother Emanuel AME Church, and other people who have died while at their place of worship, wished for the same thing and found peace after those tragedies.

Mother Emanuel AME Church members gathered on the following Sunday and held their regular services, paying tribute to their members who died at the hands of evil in their place of worship.

EVIL: Murray and Roof both killed because of their hate for a certain class of people different from themselves. ISIS, the terror group known for beheading its enemies, kills for the same reason. Evil knows no color. Evil is blind to all but the hate and rage that flourishes within the mind and body where it resides.

Most of those who kill others because of something other than self-defense (ethnic background, religious views, political affiliations, moral beliefs and values, geographical areas, etc.), probably do so because they see the others as evil or someone less than themselves, who does not deserve to live. True evil lies in their mirror.

When evil lurks within the mind of someone, it will always find a reason to come out to destroy life or cause injury, regardless of any other factor. Evil does not need justification.

Evil thrives on pain and misery and inflicts it upon everyone near. It is a poison that ruins lives, regardless of age, race, sex, sexuality identity, or color. The use of guns is only one mechanism for its delivery.

The shooter stated that he had second thoughts about following through with his plan because of the kindness the people had shown him. On that day, evil won when he decided to follow through with his plan and pulled the trigger. Good people died. I wish the good in Roof had won so no one had to lose their life. It wasn’t race that caused those people to die. It was the evil in Roof’s mind that used skin color as an excuse to steal lives.

LOVE: Love won on Sunday when visitors and members of the Mother Emanuel AME Church sang songs of praise to honor those who died in a battle of love versus evil. People gathered to rejoice, rather than to mourn, even though some wept and struggled with their anger. Many parishioners prayed for God to forgive the shooter and to allow everyone to heal as tears flowed. Love suffers loss. Love heals. Love forgives. Love will overpower evil in the end, regardless of the complexion of a person’s skin.

Visit StraightFromthePen.com for my other writings.  Feel free to contact me at waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com or at the snail mail address listed on the website.

______________________________

* In “The Search for Enlightenment” I wrote about my struggle and periodic failure to live without resorting to violence or the threat of violence to resolve issues. Each day I focus on doing the right thing so I can live in harmony with the Universe. If a predator targets me, which rarely happens, I may struggle to let love overpower the evil instincts I learned based upon my life experiences, but no matter what, I do try to be the man God created me to be.

#NATURE – Frogs, an Octopus & #Escapees

#NATURE–FROGS, AN OCTOPUS & #ESCAPEES

I believe it is natural for most living beings to want to be free, at least, under normal circumstances. Some captives do become institutionalized and prefer captivity over freedom, but most prefer to be free; some will go to any length to have it, even at the risk of being killed in the process of trying to obtain it through unlawful means. I know because I have done that before.

TreeFrog

TREE FROG WITHOUT A TREE: On June 4, 2015, I saved a tiny, dark green, treeless, tree frog from “frog-nappers” or demented, foot-stomping prisoners, waiting to inflict pain or death by foot. I am a converted frog-napper, so I know the profile. I frog-napped another one but only to protect it from harm, not for entertainment purposes. It wasn’t my first one.

I chased the little frog in an unnatural habitat for us both; along a concrete sidewalk inside a federal prison, before I covered it with my hand and captured it for relocation to a safer area. The sidewalk ran in front of several connected buildings: chapel, psychology and education departments, and the Federal Prison Industries factory where I work. I was one of the first to hit the sidewalk en route to a meeting for those who want to live a different life than before.

I walked past the frog before it registered in my mind that a frog sit in the middle of the sidewalk. I backed up and the chase began. The hopping frog was no match for a stepper like me. Fortunate for the frog, I had it in my hand before hundreds of feet raced down the sidewalk. I carried it back to work with me after learning the meeting had been cancelled.

Prior to my freeing the treeless tree frog, inside the factory where I work, I put the frog inside a Styrofoam cup with another cup sitting upside down on top of the cup holding the frog. Moments later I slightly separated the two cups to let some air in, but not wide enough for the frog to escape. I went to work with the cup-of-frog sitting a foot away from me. As I sat typing on the computer, I heard a scratching sound and saw the frog peeping between the crack. I made it jump down and then repositioned the cups to stop it from doing it again. I poked a hole in the top of the top cup so the frog could breathe.

A minute later, the top cup popped off the other cup and fell on the table; the frog still inside, after its escape plan failed.

I put the cups back together. It tried again, this time jumping harder and higher, desperate to obtain its freedom. The cup flipped and fell inside the other cup, on top of the frog. Another failed escape plan. The point is, that not just people want to be free. Everything wants to be free, treeless tree frogs included. I wanted it to be free, too, and changed my plan for its release, which I had planned to do after work by putting it near a drain as I did another frog that I will write about shortly.

FREEDOM FOR A FROG: I released the tiny arboreal amphibian through a one-inch diameter pipe hole in a two-foot-thick, concrete wall where I work, so that it could hop or crawl along safely without being in danger of prisoner abuse. Of course, that is not to say that a snake, crow, or other predator did not lie in wait on the other side of the wall for its next meal to hop to the ground. No one can change fate.

Most prisoners would avoid stepping on a frog but some would stomp one to act macho or perhaps to just see its splattered remains on the sidewalk. Some are sicker than others. Some will capture one to keep it as a pet and then go to great extremes to catch and feed it insects, such as my friend, Jeffrey P. Frye, who blogs at http://bankblogger.weebly.com and http://www.murderslim.com/JeffreyPFrye.html. For an entertaining read, check out his January 2015 blog post, “Welcome to the Jungle.”

FIRST TREELESS TREE FROG RESCUE: Ironically, the last treeless tree frog that I captured inside this prison was not my first one of late; however, I prefer to say that I relocated it to safety, rather than “captured it.” That is because the police captured me and I did not like that at all, even if it did save me from myself. A lot of people probably rejoiced. Anyway, back to the frog. The truth is that I frog-napped it no matter how I justify my actions. I forced it to go with me as the slippery little creature kicked and squirmed inside my hand to try to escape.

Two weeks before the tree frog without a tree, a damsel in distress asked me to catch a treeless tree frog that had chosen the doorjamb in the chapel as a hiding spot. It clung to the steel frame of the door, near the lower hinge. On that day, an attractive Nubian Princess summoned me to the door with a wave of her hand. I obeyed without protest. She said, “Please get that frog and move it somewhere so it won’t get hurt.”

She knew I was a softy and told me so because she was at the scene when me and other prisoners protected the snake I wrote about in “Snake vs. Politics.”

“I called you over because I know you will make sure it doesn’t get hurt.”

I appreciated her vote of confidence. “It sure did pick a strange place to hang out,” I said, as I moved into position to capture the treeless tree frog before the door slammed and squished the little creature.

After capturing it, I relocated it to an area near a storm drain so it could hide from a crow or some other predator, including the infamous frog-nappers and frog-abusers.

BULLFROG: A week before that frog, me and a friend was walking on an asphalt track out on the recreation yard and found a frog sitting on the edge of the pavement. I relocated it to an area beside the perimeter fence. I concluded that that one was a bullfrog, because when I threw it into a puddle of water, it took a dive and I haven’t seen it since.

Tree frogs do not dive under water. I know because I tried the same experiment with the last frog I caught by filling a sink with water, and it just floated when I let it go for a swim. That told me it wasn’t a bullfrog, even though it did look a lot like the one on the recreation yard.

Before those frogs, I saw others within the last month that I helped by removing them from the same sidewalk. I found several others over the years that I relocated from major walkways or asphalt tracks to prevent them from being killed or injured. I like frogs and all living creatures, so I don’t harm any of them. I even avoid stepping on ants or other insects and won’t kill a mosquito because I feel they have as much of a right to be on this earth as I do.

WHAT’S UP WITH THESE FROGS IN PRISON? Maybe they are a sign of some sort. Hmmm. A former fiance’e (Karen, who I wrote about in “A Prisoner and a Poem for a Princess”) said I had frog qualities. Maybe she thought I was a frog waiting to be turned into a prince with a kiss. She had read a book on Native American beliefs to come up with my “frog qualities”; which had something to do with “healing,” or with having an ability to calm people. She also compared me to a shaman. I did not know what a shaman was or what she meant, so I asked a Native American friend who knew me from Twelve Step meetings. He said that he saw a correlation between my behaviors in social circles and those of a shaman.

A shaman? That makes more sense than me being like a frog. I don’t jump around bumping my behind on the ground, and my ego says I look better than any frog, but, to be fair to the frogs, I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some little frogs are cute, too, so …. who am I to say? At any rate, I don’t think I would cause warts if I urinated on someone. Maybe I’ll try giving someone a golden shower one day just to see if warts pop up. Then again, I think that is a myth about frogs causing warts, otherwise, I’d be covered in them because numerous frogs have relieved themselves on my hands throughout the years, being the frog-napping type of fellow I am.

octopus

AN OCTOPUS ON THE RUN: On June 6, 2015, I watched “Life Story” on the Discovery channel. It amazed me to see a flounder stalking an octopus. The narrator said that flounders will snatch a meal by biting off one of an octopus’s tentacles.

The octopus crept along the ocean floor to stay ahead of its stalker. Each time the octopus got so far ahead, the flounder readjusted the distance by moving in closer, and then I watched the octopus pick up a half of a coconut shell. It amazed me to see the octopus wrap its tentacles around the half-shell and ease across the ocean floor with it in tow. The flounder continued to stalk its prey.

As some may know, animals and other forms of life do things to make themselves larger when threatened by a predator, the same thing that some experts suggest we do to ward off an attack by a wild animal. I thought that was why the octopus climbed on top of the coconut shell and walked away with it. Maybe that was why it initially picked it up.

Well, moments later, the octopus found the other half of the coconut shell and climbed inside the first half, and then used the second half to encase itself inside of to roll down a slope in the ocean floor to escape its predator. Mission accomplished. An escape by a coconut shell saved the octopus. The flounder discontinued its pursuit of an octopus tentacle as its meal.

See, everything wants to be free; frogs, octopuses, and humans, like those in the recent New York prison escape. It is in our nature to want to be free.

dog pulling cop

ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK: No, not the 1981 movie by that title. Prison escapees causing a siege throughout the state. The most popular criminals in America right now are Richard Matt and David Sweat. Both escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on June 6, 2015, by using power tools to cut through cell walls and a sewer pipe to leave the prison. Both are convicted murderers and were scheduled to serve the rest of their lives in prison. Over 800 local and federal officials search for them as I type, as well as several other law enforcement agents and concerned citizens across America.

Joyce Mitchell, a female prison worker faces charges for her involvement in their escape. She provided hacksaw blades, drill bits, and chisels to help, and was supposed to be their getaway driver, but changed her mind and didn’t show up, which left them to fend for themselves. Personally, I feel that her not showing up “may” have saved her life. The escapees may or may not have decided to kill her after their escape. Many prisoners do terrible things out of desperation. When on escape, I believe it increases the risk of doing so to avoid going back to the confinement that they hate.

I understand Matt and Sweat’s actions. In 1981 I escaped from a close security prison in the State of Georgia, which I wrote about in “The Price of Change,” available in my magazine (ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN (https://www.straightfromthepen.com) and as an eBook (“Fence Rows & The Price of Change”) from my author’s page at Smashwords.com (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy)).

The NY escape was considerably different than the one I was involved in, where several of us escaped by taking control of the control room to open the doors before we ran and climbed fences. Two fellow escapees were shot during the process but not fatally. I ran through woods with helicopters and hound dogs in pursuit, and then stole a car, ran through two roadblocks, and was back in prison within a few hours. I paid a heavy price for those actions and would have done the same thing many years ago when I started this sentence in 1988, but I am really grateful that I did not. If I had done so, my life would have ended and I may have harmed others before that happened.

My prayer is that the escapees do not harm anyone, and if caught, that they do not get killed in the process, if that is what they want. In situations such as theirs, death often seems to be a better alternative than returning to prison for the rest of their lives. I know. I felt that way before I was arrested on August 18, 1988, and did not plan for it to happen the way it did. I planned on a big shootout with the cops, etc., etc. It was only by the grace of God that things didn’t work according to my plan, and that I did not commit suicide after my arrest. I thought about it real hard but hung on due the love I had for my family and for other more nefarious reasons.

As long as we are alive there is hope. The hope of one day living a better life has kept me alive throughout all these dark years. Now I can see a bright shining light as the day of my release moves closer each day, and that makes me grateful.

waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com

Talk About Under Pressure

Midnight Express Books released the paperback version of UNDER PRESSURE by Mr. D, in January 2013 before releasing the eBook a week later. A month afterwards, I let a prison guard read an excerpt from the eBook that someone had printed and mailed in to me. The excerpt came from a scene I wrote about my main protagonist, Stan Mason, who was involved in a prison riot. A Special Operations Response Team (SORT) member stopped his participation with 50,000-volts from a stun gun (TASER).

The guard said, “Oh, that isn’t correct. The Bureau doesn’t have TASERs.” He read on and then said, “This isn’t right either. SORT wouldn’t have responded to a situation like that. DCT would have.”

“What is DCT?”

“DCT is our Disturbance Control Team and is usually the first to arrive when something breaks out.”

I do not like to be inaccurate, even if writing fiction.

Before I sent UNDER PRESSURE to the publisher, a friend named Wayne G. had proofread my manuscript. He has a Master degree in Psychology. He strongly urged me to send copies of my novel to Criminology departments at universities all across the United States, because it depicts real life inside of some of the more serious American prisons and the events leading to prison.

“They made us read several books in class that were no where near as good as this one,” he said. “I’m telling you, man, they’ll jump right on it and make it required reading if you get it in the right hands. If they do that then you will sell 30-35 copies for every class, and if it catches on at one school, then others will follow.”

I liked that idea. Then I envisioned an English professor holding up a copy of my attractive book before his or her students in a Creative Writing class to inspire them. I liked that idea, too. After all, if a prisoner can write a book and have it published, then what can a free citizen do who has more tools and resources available to them than what the prisoner had? Thus sprang the idea for UNDER PRESSURE-MOTIVATIONAL VERSION by Mr. D, because if I were an aspiring student, the story behind the novel would inspire me.

I wrote “The Story Behind the Novel” to tell the process I used to get the book in print; then wrote the “Author’s Note” to explain the inaccuracies as reported by the prison guard; cleaned up every error I could find, and then sent it to the publisher with suggested formatting changes to make it more attractive and easier to read.

Midnight Express Books released the motivational version in July 2013. Now that my words are etched in history, less than two years after I had written about the TASERs in my novel, the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons started training staff to use TASERs in all of their high security facilities.

I must be a visionary, huh? Now I need to continue envisioning my novel in the hands of those professors. I sent a few copies of my books (UNDER PRESSURE-MOTIVATIONAL VERSION by Mr. D. and ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN by Wayne T. Dowdy) to magazine editors and a couple of colleges, but I am unaware if any of them have decided to use them. Please share my idea with any professor or school of thought that may be interested in using a well-written book to inspire their students. Then again, tell anyone about them who wants to read good books guaranteed to entertain them. Thanks!

Please purchase my books from StraightFromthePen.com (http://www.straightfromthepen.com) or from your favorite online or offline bookseller. Paperbacks and eBooks are available from most major book retailers and eBook distributors. I also have several essays available as eBooks. Some I offer as free downloads from my Smashwords Author’s page (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy), which may be downloaded in any format for eReaders or in html or pdf formats for reading on a PC.

UNDER PRESSURE-MOTIVATIONAL VERSION (https://straightfromthepen.com/wdsftp_007.htm);
ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN (http://www.straightfromthepen.com/05122015_011.htm);
Links for eBooks from STRAIGHTFROMTHEPEN.COM go to Smashwords.com.