Setrting the right sentence for the Boston Marathon Bomber, Zen Quaker style.
I was raised in Philadelphia, the Quaker City, where the Friends established the first "penitentiary" to place people not for punishment but to do penance.
I have spent most of the rest of my life guided by them, the simplicity of Zen Buddhism and also Tibetan Buddhism, which I always regarded as Baroque Zen.
So when it comes time (as it is today) for a jury to decide what to do with the sole surviving bomb-brother, and thinking about Suzuki Roshi and Chogyam Trungpa, I offer this idealized sentence, if a sentence were designed to be something that will make our world better.
We start sentencing young Joker Snarlyface to Life Without Parole in a max security solitary facility, one pleasantly named, like Florence. (I grew up knowing a librarian at the Main Branch in Philadelphia named Florence. She was a sweet and kind lady.)
Knowing that solitary confinement without purpose can make a person crazy (crazier) we put him in the hands of a Zen Master (ZM) who ushers him into a cell, telling him there's something for him to figure out, and if he does, he may be released.
He tells him "If you can understand the meaning of what you did, you will be a free man, perhaps even released from this place. So I'll ask you:
"What good could that bomb have accomplished?
Think about it and I'll see you after a while."
The Zen master returns 2 years later, asks Joker: "What are you?"
Joker says: "A Chechen Freedom Fighter."
The ZM turns and walks out.
2 years later, he returns: "What are you?"
Joker says: "A Muslim."
ZM turns and leaves.
3 years later he returns, asks: "What are you?"
Joker says: "An avenging sword in the name of Allah."
ZM says, "Hmphh." And leaves.
2-1/2 years later, ZM returns, asks the same question.
Joker says: "A murderer."
Zm looks a long look at him, grunts and leaves.
5 years later, ZM returns.
Joker is ready and says: "A monster."
ZM laughs and leaves.
10 years later, ZM comes back.
Asks the question.
Joker says: "A fool."
ZM gives him a long look and smiles and leaves.
10 more years, ZM comes back.
Joker is quiet, ZM asks the question.
Joker sighs and says: "An asshole."
ZM smiles and asks: "Are you certain?"
Joker says: "Yes."
ZM turns and leaves.
7 years later he returns, asks again.
This time Joker repeats: "I'm just an asshole."
ZM asks again: "Are you certain?"
Joker sighs and says: "I don't know."
ZM says: "That's very good."
"Wars, politics, causes -- for thousands of years
we've ended up with a sack of shit. It's time we learned to think." Charles Bukowski
"Where in the waste is the wisdom?"
James Joyce Finnegans Wake