I substitute teach occasionally to bring in a paycheck while we are in job limbo. It's not the most glamorous job, but I try to focus on the kids who are obviously struggling. Some days that seems to be most of the kids. Not too long ago I overheard one of the kids mention to the others that his dad was in prison. The kids started up a conversation about the people in their lives who are in prison - these are elementary students. When there was at one occasion a small group of five of the kids, I asked them how many had close relatives who had been in prison. Here are the stats:
- Four of five had someone closely related, no further than cousin, in prison
- Two of the five had a father who was or in prison currently
- A different one had a mother who had been in prison
- Most had brothers or cousins who were currently in prison
It just makes me ache thinking about it. Percentages tell us that unless some event that is truly transformative, or someone, comes into their lives, they will repeat that behavior.
I don't know that we can truly "fix" anything; certainly not without God's help. But we need a community of people that sees something beautiful in the pieces that are laying all around us.