Sometimes the Best Punishment is a Good Time

There are 3 boys in my neighborhood who are misbehaving.  I suspect they are acting on wrong-headed thinking (read: hate) of their parents and acting-out to get their approval.

This family dynamic is not my business.  However, the yelling of threats that include the n-word (directed at my neighbor and disturbing to my daughter) and the setting of brush fires (that threatened the whole neighborhood) twice in 2 years, is my business.

What these boys need is a good time…a good time specialized just for them: they need to get to know some black people.

If I could design their ‘punishment’ for the hate speech and arson, I would have them spend 6 consecutive Saturdays eating a meal with a black family from this neighborhood, two of the firemen who spent an entire Saturday tending the brush fire that blackened the whole cove behind my home (and is still burning in spots almost 2 weeks of rain, later), and a sherrif’s deputy or two.

There would be no conversation concerning hate, racism, arson, fires, or even bad parenting or bad behavior.  Rather the suggested topics, introduced by the adults, might include what it was like growing up around here and watching the lake flood after the river was dammed up, where they went to school, football and this next championship season, cars, fishing, telling jokes,…  The food would be good stuff like freshly smoked barbecue, chili, homemade ice cream,…

The goal is for these boys to get to know, and have a goid time with, people not like them.  People hate what they don’t know, primarily out of fear.  If these boys got to know the neighbors they were taunting, and got to know them as just people with lives and appetites and and interests, they would stop fearing …and possible stop hating.

Unfortunately, the black family they were taunting have packed up and moved to find a neighborhood with a better emotional atmosphere…for health reasons.

You will not stop hate with more hate; it can only be stopped with love.

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