Another approach to ending violence

 

In New York during the 1970s a world famous Tai Chi Master came to teach in

the city, at that time teeming with eager young men and women learning the

ancient Chinese martial art of yielding to and wielding vital force. He

taught his students the Tai Chi form, both short and long, and soon enough

had talented disciples devoted to him. He taught them, amongst other

things, to use the "Beak" which places the thumb, index and third finger

together in a pyramid. He taught his students that this was more powerful

than a fist, and when it was used with Chi, the essential life force

centered below the naval, it could be more powerful than bullets, it could

break bones, rip through doors, and bring the most violent criminal to a

halt.when driven - and utilised - by the Chi power within the body.

 

Several months later, this Master was walking on the upper west side of NYC

and encountered a gang of thugs robbing the Thalia movie theater - a house

famous for showing European art films at low ticket cost - whereupon he

jumped into the fray, using the "Beak" to disarm the perpetrators, and at

one point, applied it to the face of the gang leader, causing the bones in

his face to be broken and crushed, disfiguring him for life. In New York

he was lauded for his heroic efforts for disarming armed thugs in a

robbery. Then news of this got back to Taiwan, to his master, and school

which he represented in the United States. They were aghast upon hearing

the story, and a letter of severe reprimand was immediately sent to him,

also recalling him back to Taiwan forthwith. He had broken the laws of the

martial arts master, by using "too much force" consistent with the

occasion. All he needed to do was stop these man, but he did not need to

disfigure anyone for life. He stepped beyond the bounds of his use of

power, and was stripped of his belt and sent off in shame.

 

And so it is . . . . .

 

In further response to the Ram Das story - and by the way - my

fiance-to-be-announced, Faina, was Ram Das' secretary during the late

sixties and seventies, and my great friend Bhagwan Das, was the man who

introduced Richard Alpert to his guru in Nepal. In any event, during the

1950s, the liberal state of California under the Brown administration

created and institutionalized public counseling centers throughout the

state. These were free to citizens of California and were spread wide

throughout the large and medium cities in the state. There were three

level of service - 1. A Counselor, 2. A Psychologist, 3. A Psychiatrist.

No matter what the problem, big or small, a citizen could go for free

counseling, and by law, their records were sealed and available to no

individual or government agency. Therefore citizens could feel secure in

discussing problems with professionals without repercussions.

 

This was the way the then-enlightened state of California could help its

people, nipping in the bud, in most cases, societal problems which would

come out later in the form of criminal activities. It worked, and was used

as an example throughout the world of what a state could do to help its

citizens who had problems, mental or otherwise. Please remember this was

the same state that formed the community colleges which assured a college

education to any citizen who graduated high school. One could attend one

of seventy colleges for two years, get their grades up, then enter one of

the two state college systems of California for practically free - The

University of California (from which I attended) or the State College

System. No one single political entity had ever granted its citizens such

a right to free higher education and free counselling. And this was a

shining example for the world to see - the possibility it could could be

accomplished on public funds without bankrupting the state. In fact, when

Brown left office after two terms, (8 years) he left the state with a

$100,000,000. surplus, a lot of money in 1960. Who succeeded him? Ronald

Reagan, who immediately cut the counselling program and dramatically raised

tuitions at the universities. O Well.

 

It seems the politicians thought the cost of nipping social problems in

the bud was more than end result - violence and crime. Now we spend

billions more on prisons when we could have prevented many people from a

criminal actions. In retrospect, we look back and discover how

shortsighted we were. It would have been far cheaper to enhance these

counseling centers and take the California model to the rest of the nation

than to build prisons and budget billions for them. It is the saddest

commentary of our time to discover that California spends more money in the

criminal justice system than it does on education.

 

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