Of course, the criminal justice system centers around incarceration (and less so rehabilitation) and for most of history--from chains, cages, and dungeons--the most vile despots have placed people's bodies in desperate restraints.
But I have learned that people can be not only physically incarcerated and shackled, but they can also literally be imprisoned within their own bodies.
My own dear mother suffered terribly with Parkinson's Disease and I watched helplessly and in horror as the degenerative rigidity, contortion, and incredibly horrendous pain made her suffer so. No amount of pain medication could ease her unbelievable suffering...only death itself.
In another instance, a colleague's spouse got sick with ALS and as this horrible disease ran it's course, the person could not move, eat, speak, and eventually even breath on their own. Their mind worked fine, but it was imprisoned within a body that continuously closed in on itself and could no longer function.
In both these cases, the body itself was the prison of the mind and soul--no bars, no barbed wire, and no high walls necessary.
Another case, I read and watched about his week, was of a husband and father who suddenly became a quadriplegic. Kevin Breen was a healthy and active 44-year old, when suddenly he came down with a case of strep throat that traveled to his stomach and almost ended up killing him. He survived, but had to have his hands and feet amputated. Can you imagine the absolute horror of this?
There are so many good things that can happen in life, but also so many, G-d forbid, misfortunes--it is frightening to think about let alone confront.
Locked up or imprisoned within our own failing bodies, leave mankind looking out into the darkest and deepest of the abyss, and that is when we need G-d's ultimate mercy and to answer us more than ever. ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)