July 13, 2018

Dear Outside World

by Christopher Trotter (author's profile)


July 10, 2018

Dear outside world,
I've been inside the belly of the beast (prison) now for 38 years and twenty of those years were spent in solitary confinement on a secure housing unit (SHU) at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle, IN. Can you imagine being in solitary confinement for 20 years in a windowless cell, 23 hours a day, and where the conditions are dehumanizing, demoralizing, and you are treated like an animal in a cage?

During my years in solitary confinement, I spent my time struggling against the abuse and injustices taking place, and it was during that time of struggling that something about myself had been revealed to me. And that was that I was broken. Being close to the suffering and cruel punishment didn't just illuminate the brokenness of the weak but, in moments of anguish and heartbreak, it also exposed my own brokenness. You can't effectively fight injustice and not be broken by it.

Twenty years of solitary confinement made me realize that we are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and been hurt by someone. We all share the condition of brokenness, even if our brokenness is not equivalent. But our shared brokenness connects us. Being broken is what makes us human.

We all have our reasons for being broken. Sometimes we're fractured by the choices we made and sometimes we are shattered by things we would have never chosen. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis for our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.

Outside world, we have a choice. You have a choice. We can embrace our humanness, which means embracing our broken natures and the compassion that remains our best hope for healing, or we can deny our brokenness, forswear compassion, and, as a result, deny our own humanity.

But simply punishing the broken, walking away and hiding us from sight with long prison sentences, only ensures that we remain broken—and so do you!

Can anyone out there tell me why we have become so fearful and vengeful? What is really happening? We've become so fearful and vengeful that we've thrown our babies into prisons, not because they are a threat to public safety or beyond rehabilitation but because we think it makes us seem tough or less broken. But it doesn't. You're still broken!

I am not a monster, I am you! I'm strong but human! No matter what I've done or no matter what you've done to me. I always remind myself that each of us is more than the worst thing we have done. I tell myself that no matter how ugly something appears, if you look hard enough, there is some beauty somewhere to be found.

Strong but human!

Christopher Trotter
WVS M-323 #862556
P.O. Box 1111
Carlisle, IN 47838

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Replies (2) Replies feed

LynnEspinoza Posted 1 year, 10 months ago. ✓ Mailed 1 year, 10 months ago   Favorite
I hope this finds you in good health! This is absolutely beautiful, you’ve described the very corruption of where our so-called “humanity” turn into hypocrisy. Your mind is well beyond those inside or outside the prison system and you’ve touched more souls than you know. I Pray the outside world comes to its senses and welcome you with the same open arms. Also- happy belated 35th birthday Chris! Got anything in mind for your bday?(:

Christopher Trotter Posted 1 year, 10 months ago.   Favorite
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