ethel’s words

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WISHES TO GO OVER PRISON WALLS: From a summer past

Today, when I looked at the royal purple cascade of blossoms on the Jackmanii Clematis, I remembered the day I walked the garden, viewing the flowers and trees, appreciating them for the young men and women who are in our prisons, wishing I could share the beauties, the fragrances, the health, with them--actually.

I further thought, today, how I wish I could have done something successful--I did much, my whole life, but all was a failure, kicked aside by Power. But I will say to you, young men and young women in our prisons--most of you, I know, branded with the black hair--I will write my wishes for you and dream, like an aging hermit. Perhaps one person will read what I have written.

I wish I could have given you--as I always wished that I could give my own son--the tennis courts you never had, the dancing lessons, the fencing lessons, the guitars and drums. I wish I could have given you the human literature you were denied--in order to give you lessons you didn’t relate to.

I wish I could have given you a source of kindness that would be available to you wherever you might be. I wish I could have given you all the tools of art and of music, for the talents which blossom even in the anti-life barrenness of prisons. I have seen magnificent art, I have read poems of profound meanings, that were created in prisons. What beauties are hidden in your starved brains, your yearning hearts, needing only kindness and opportunity and freedom to grow and bloom.

A great lawyer from England once said, in Salt Lake City, “The way we treat our criminals is the measure of our civilization”. It is indeed, also, a measure of our intellectual ethics, the relevancy of our science, the hypocrisy of our religion, and the quality of our souls.

Ethel C. Hale