The tyranny of deferred hope

Sareini, Ali

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The Tyranny of Deferred Hope by Ali Sareini [ID] 
 There's a story relayed that the philosopher Des'Cartes took to his bed in order to ponder his existence. For ten years, to free his mind, he had food and drink brought to him for this singular task. At the end he reduced existence to a simple phrase: Cigato ergo sum. (I ponder therefore I am). I have been in prison for 26 years. I have had food and drink brought to me, and I've pondered the existence of life. After 26 years, what I've found in a singular phrase: Life is a tyranny of hopes. Life is hope's tyranny in endless regression. To believe the "now" is preceded by the "then" and not the "will be" is appealing to the endlessly past dwelling life. A person fervently believes there's a beginning that begot life's existence. 
 The Beginning The bestowing of the "Mark of Cain" on anyone is unique. The Mark's ubiquity today, in Cain's murder of his brother Abel, has the unique property of combining life's regressive bent with its progressive unraveling of a person's hopes. The Mark of Cain is regressive because its origin is in the past, and progressive because the children of Cain live in the deferred hopes of what Cain's life could have been. The "Mark" appeared with the beginning of Adam and Eve's earthly life. The "Mark" demands a soothing philosophical knot of endless regression to untie the reasons behind life's course. In 1964, I was born in Khirbit Seleem (valley of peace), Southern Lebanon. Life in the village, for nine years, was one of relative happiness, until the Lebanese Civil War forced my family to leave. I lived free in America for ten years before the Mark of Cain appeared on my life. Somewhere in those 19 years is the origin of my "Mark". However, to placate the reader, I blame my "Mark" on an absentee father, a very living Mother, the lack of physical and mental defect, or on being Labeled a smart kid. Or, it have been the lack of poverty and hardship in childhood, or maybe, the "Mark" is the payment to descend from Cain? I understand Cain's deferred hope in my hope deferred since I've graduated from Fordson Highschool (1983), fought in the Lebanese Civil War (1984-85); was granted political asylum in Berlin, Germany (1985); was in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. (1985); earned an A.S. degree from Campbell University, N.C (1988); finished a B.A. in Business Administration from Spring Arbor University, MI (1998); and hold Vocational Certificates in Office Management (1990), Culinary Arts (1997), and Horticulture Science (2002). Ironically, the Mark of Cain, and that of his subsequent sons, is the driving force behind the deferred hopes of civilization. On February 7, 1984, in the City of Detroit, a gas station attendant was killed during a robbery. There was no leads or evidence in the crime. Detroit's Homicide Division, in 1984, only had an 18% clearing rate that went up to 35% with a coerced false confession. It's reasonable to believe the crime was to go unsolved. Coincidentally, five months after the crime alleged evidence was found in an envelope in a mailbox. A friend of the victim's family found an envelope addressed to "My dear Mother and Father". He took the unopened envelope to my parents, who found a letter and cassette tape. My parents asked him to deliver all the items to the victim's family. The victim's family kept the letter and tape recording and sought justice according to the Arab's vengeful nature. The 25 year old victim was an Arab, and Arab families do not operate on justice, facts, or reasonable doubt. They exist only to avenge. A life for a life. The eye and tooth are superfluous. The Muslim Holy Book, Qur'an, is clear. It allows forgiveness, but most Arabs don't read past the verse that allows vengeful killing. The Arab sayth vengeance is mine. I have learned as an Arab that vengeance is a drug with no high. I think about the 25 year old victim often, but not in the way of retribution. A prisoner does not sit in his cage for 25 years to only think about his crime and its consequence. The ideal of those that seek retribution. If I only thought about the crime and its consequences I could not function. All people must abide by a functional forgetfulness, or they could not function. The alleged story is that a co-defendant, which no one's seen but whose name is known, was killed in the Lebanese Civil War. He was conveniently missing, though he is the perpetrator of the crime. My last 26 years of imprisonment are based on an envelope found in a mailbox that alleged I was present during the killing of the gas station attendant. The preliminary hearings judge dismissed the charges because of insufficient evidence. There was no evidence anyone knew the origin of the letter and tape recording, who made them, or that they were not coerced or altered. Nothing connects the letter and tape recording to the person being charged. I was allowed to return to the Army to complete my enlistment. A year later the victim's cousin, a sheriff in Oetroit's court system, had the charges reinstated. The Chief judge of the same court was convinced by the prosecutor and the cousin, that the dismissal of charges because of laws and rules of evidence should not stand. The central evidence, here, is that the judge, prosecutor, and defense attorney have the blessing and forgiveness of the victim's family in the acceptance of a coerced guilty plea. Ironically, in accepting the plea, I have left myself open to the vengeance of the victim's family continued lies to the parole board that have thwarted any chance at the possibility of parole and forgiveness for the last years of imprisonment. 
 The tyranny of victim's There's nothing in the judicial and legislative system today more damaging to fairness and objectivity than the gospel of victim's rights. The tyranny of victim's has guiltily forced the legislative and judicial branches to afford them rights that don't abide by rules. Victim's can present any story, fictional, true, or perjured, to the courts of public empathy. Their tyranny is immune from criticism, scrutiny, or justification. The victim has to only give lip-service to fairness, equality, and the right of the accused to be afforded all deference, and may, if he chooses, dispense with anyone's rights for the tyranny of the victim's emotional state. The tyranny of victim's rights is best crystallized by the hallowed rights of the victims of 9/11. In one, of many examples, the victim's of 9/11 kept Muslim Americans from being victims of 9/11, forced the Muslims of New York not to build a Mosque near Ground Zero, and basically removed the right of all Americans too exercise their constitutional, property, and purchase rights. There are numerous rights overlooked each day, and laws violated, to appease victims. Their rights, which are subjective, are not based in law or practice, but in the notion that victims feelings have the paramount tyranny to be honored and obeyed at the cost of all other rights granted by any constitution. Its the victim's obsession with justice which has caused the most injustice to occur. To a prisoner, there's no greater tyrant or hypocrite than self-righteous victims. The mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, daughters, and sons of victims need the perpetrator of a crime to suffer. The need for the facts of the incident, or what preceded the confrontation is subjugated to the need for subjective justice. What's wanted is revenge. However, the same family members, when the criminal is one of their own, always ask for compassion and forgiveness. They tearfully argue that their criminal deserves another chance. To both sides it doesn't matter if the person is innocent or guilty. What matters is someone must satisfy the subjective lust of the eye for the eye and the tooth for the tooth. To interject subjective emotions into an objective judicial system is to allow a society with no eyes and no teeth. 
 The tyranny of pleading guilt The United States Constitution affords all its citizens a trial by jury. That is no longer practical or financially feasible. The reality is that 97% of state and 95% of federal judicial proceedings are dispensed with by guilt. The judicial system is no longer a system of trials, but rather a system of pleas. Sadly, the majority of Americans today belief that an innocent man would stand on top of a mountain proclaiming his innocence before he pleads guilty to a crime he did not commit. However, as anyone whose been in Detroit's Wayne County - old side - jail, in 1988, would say: 'you would have pled guilty to anything to leave that jail.' It didn't matter that you left for a prison surrounded by barbed wire fences and guard towers. What mattered was your ability to see the sky and a world not desiccated by steel bars. Naively, on August 7, 1989, after 287 days in the Wayne County jail I pled guilty to the killing of the gas station attendant. If I can pass any wisdom, to the reader, don't ever plead guilty. No one ever forgives you, or acknowledges you took responsibility. What the victims, judicial, and executive branches will do is justify every conceivable treatment of you as justice for being guilty. All involved have a simplistic mantra of justice that permeates their view of responsibility: 'If you can't do the time, don't do the crime'. In Michigan, the Parole Board holds to the same mantra with a twist: 'If you can't do our time, don't do your crime'. For the guilt, I was assured a life sentence, with the possibility of parole, would be ten years and deportation back to Lebanon. Parolable life was preferred and compassionately imposed, because it allowed parole much earlier than an amount of years. The problem is that the parole board has decided that life with, or without parole are synonymous. "Life means Life". Sadly, as of 2014, the ten years and deportation plea has become 26 years of imprisonment. Though each year more defendants are found to have pled guilty to crimes they did not commit, on insufficient evidence, the criminal justice system still finds no fault except on the part of the accused. Its hoped that the rules of evidence, in 50 states, could never commit me to 26 years of imprisonment on an alleged taps recording that contains voice cuts and erased sections, because such a nightmare implication is to Kafkaesque for America. 
 The tyranny of imprisonment The forgotten. The missing. An ominous and potent description of the imprisoned. Yet knowingly, an apt label of the prisoner's psyche that holds these truths to be self-evident. He is forgotten due to a feeling of being born in the wrong time. Ha has missed every calling in life. Like all his life, prison came upon quickly, stuck stubbornly, and enslaved him bitterly. He tries to maintain some semblance of a normal life by knowing no one understands him, yet burdenly, he understands everyone and everything. 
 The entering Prison to a prisoner isn't gradual, its sudden. The whole time he's innocent until guilty, he doesn't believe prison is the guilty part. Its his thought of innocence that occupies his mind when the cell door is slammed. To survive the prisoner clings to what was normal and socially acceptable. He still wants to belong to a society that when it slammed the bars said: 'you no longer belong'. Thus, he celebrates, small case, birthdays, thanksgiving, Christmas, and new year. Sadly, as the years, hope, and meaning in imprisonment drag-on he no longer celebrates the things he has one less of until returning home. The prisoner's hope in meaning and belonging is the first and last belief to escape prison each day. The yearly celebrations become hated to him. First, they no Longer have any meaning. The holidays become a reminder of his complete isolation. A birthday is not joyous, thanksgiving is not a family meal, christmas brings no presents, and new year's resolutions are always failed hopes. Home for the holiday is a cell, the birth of a saver is unanswered, and should old times be forgotten not by those who have judged and imprisoned him. It's a strange existence to be a singularly emoted identity. The prisoner develops a time-relativity emotional identity in prison. If he has a sentence of five or less years, he is allowed all human emotions. He can keep his hopes, less of in five years, and future mistakes. If he has more than five but less than ten years he's allowed the emotions needed to manipulate, have unrealistic hopes, but fewer future mistakes. Its the prisoner who has more than ten years but less than death that has the most interesting time-relative identity. His emotions, hopes, and future mistakes are reduced to Number One! The one emotion is remorse, the one hope is not to die in prison, and the future mistake is the one that will put him into the revolving door of prison life. 
 The turning This happens gradually. The prisoner attains a character that he's always felt. His character is predicated on the knowledge of one more regret, which with regret there is always one more. He regrets the life he had, but more delusively the life he deserves. This life becomes his religion and unattainable God. An irresponsible God; for whatever good happens in prison belongs to god, but whatever bad happens in prison belong to the prisoner. All good, belong to god and all bad to you. That is a sweet deal to an irresponsible god. The prisoner's god is a fascist. Their new god allows the believing prisoner to become a true hypocrite. He can maintain the outward appearance of belief, but inwardly he doesn't have to believe to enter heaven. The prisoner prays: 'god there are no guilty or innocent people in prison, because only the unfortunate are found guilty and the innocent were born into sin. God there's no one who tells the truth in prison and no liars, because the truth will not set anyone free, it only furthers imprisonment, and everyone knows prisoners lie, so why bother. Because of this Oh God! I can never get your help when there is physical, sexual, and emotional mistreatment in prison'. There are gods and no believers, and believers and no gods in prison. This is due to both Gods and believers having mutual abandonment issues. The gods have abandoned the prisoner because he contributed to his predicament; and the prisoners have abandoned the gods because they will not contribute to their predicament. They stopped believing in each other. Thair cynical hypocrisy is mostly a reflection of those who hold the reins of a believing society and its institutions. The believing fabric is no longer the light that keeps way the darkness of the personified drudgery of everyday life in prison, its the darkness itself. 
 The becoming The long imprisoned have no fate or will. They own no direction, nor do they harbor any goals in life. What they do own is the mistakes made and the random directions they take. The prisoner, learns early in life, that his control stems from the mistakes he makes. Having one or no mistakes begets unknown and untold of rewards. The reward system of an unknown God. However, two or more mistakes, intentional or unintentional, begets punishments that are quantified, inventive, and unpredictable. Thus, he develops and reaches the prisoner's Golden Rule: "I shall not judge others for I have been judged". The rule is morally all inclusive. Prisoners - worldwide - are a people brought together in abandonment and in being unwanted. Whenever a people, fortunately or unfortunately, reach a critical-mass in an experience they create a mythological saying. The Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Peoples have inspired the imprisoned. The Jewish mythology says 'never again will we be the oppressed but the oppressors'. The Christian: 'do unto others before they do unto you'. But the Muslim has the least complicated mythology, 'everyone should either kill or be killed in the Name of God'. The Muslim's morality is the least cumbersome. When a person intentionally forces societal justice into making him a prisoner; prison removes all sincerity from his hopes, regrets, sadness, loneliness, fairness, and mistakes. The sincereness he feels in emotions held the day he entered prison are dismissed in favor of the cornucopia of emotions held by victims of crime. Its hard to maintain sincerity in anything for 26 years of imprisonment. 
 The known ending It's inevitable that I will die. The ending is known, but I still won't go gently into that good night. This feared good night is the legend of many heavens and hells that are accessed through a grave. The grave is frightening, but what wonders of ecstasy, with maybe pain, it holds. Unlike, my portal into the wonders of this world. The opened prison gate is the only portal I acknowledge or look forward to. It's hard to believe in heaven or hell when you have tasted the purgatory of living in prison for 25 years. The comparable mythology is religiously this worldly. I am a 49 year old prisoner with a life sentence and the possibility of parole. The skills or motivations I still possess have long lost their usefulness. I will not experience a flash of light on the Damascus road, hold no assets, nor fall back on networking to lessen the pain of release. If I should be released, one day, it will always be a day too late, I don't look, and who can logically, forward to a rewarding life. Logically, it would be better for me physically to remain in prison. Sadly, life is not mere physiology without emotions, but emotional with physical needs. It's my emotional drive to die a free man, whatever that means, that makes me hope for release no matter my age. The eternal hope, that is hopeless, that asks anyone who would listen to aid my release from prison. For 26 years I have been unsuccessful. Hopefully, there's that word again, in the next 26 years I will be successful. For death in prison is neither success nor failure, but a sadness upon the human condition. A companion of the Prophet Muhammed once asked: "Oh Prophet of God, who does Allah love the most". Looking past the man, the prophet answered: "The Lord loves the man who is born, worships his Lord, dies and is buried, and no one knew he was here." If that is true God loves the prisoner and me. 
 Sincerely submitted, Ali Sareini [ID] Carson City Correctional Facility 10274 Boyer Road Carson City, MI 48811 
 May 1, 2014

Author: Sareini, Ali

Author Location: Michigan

Date: October 24, 2016

Genre: Essay

Extent: 10 pages

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