We all need bees in our bonnets. Not literally, of course (I've found that one bee in my hair is quite enough to deal with). But things that get us worked up, and that we really care about.
I have two major bees. The first is the current state of the nursing profession (I've just posted on my neglected Blog, Real Nurse Campaign, and that's made me feel a whole lot better.
The other, as anyone who reads this blog will probably know, is the death penalty, and especially the treatment of prisoners on some of America's death rows.
My prisoner correspondent writes fluently and heart-breakingly about how it feels no longer to be treated as human. He will probably never touch another humnan being again (prisoners aren't even allowed to hug their families before they die). He is just a number. In April, his best friend was executed, and he says that the following weeks were "hell on wheels". He (the executed man) had friends and a family. My penfriend (who has neither) wrote:
He had a life worth saving. I on the other hand have nothing. A bucket full of phantoms. Would I have traded places with him if it meant him living to be free? Yes. That doesn't make me noble in the least. But I would give him that.
He went without food for four days to write me that letter, because he couldn't afford the money for a stamp. I know this is true, because all prisoners' letters are censored. And he wasn't hinting for money, because when I sent him some, he was upset because he didn't want to be treated as a "charity". He asked me not to send any more.
I am not sentimental. I know that what he did (if indeed he did it) was very wrong. But condemning a man to year after year of solitary confinement, leading a totally useless life, followed by the awful ritual of the death chamber (sometimes after several last-minutes stays of execution) can hardly be the answer. Can it?