It’s common knowledge that the United States holds more people in prison per capita than any other country in the world. We build more prisons and spend more money on those prisons than any other nation. Why? In his book, Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson writes that brokenness is the source of our common humanity, but that we often refuse to acknowledge our own brokenness. We punish the more obviously broken people, not always because they are a threat to society or are beyond rehabilitation, but because it makes us feel less broken. Stevenson believes that, by acknowledging our own brokenness, we develop a capacity for compassion. Then, rather than continuing the cycle of pain and violence by denial, compassion leads us to end that cycle and transform it.
By Delores Dufner, OSB