Interviews from the Missouri Department of Corrections: Matt Brooks

Matt Brooks Interviews from the Missouri DOC

Matt – I am speaking with Mason, who is due to get out of prison in a week or so. Mason, what did you learn from this experience, and how has it strengthened your faith in the Lord?

Mason – I realized that I have to beware of all the potential schemes and who I deal with, because you never know what goes on inside the minds of men behind these fences. Although, when I do know now is God has my back through it all. 

Matt – Before you were incarcerated, I’m sure you had a false perception of what prison life was like. Can you point out a few of the most contrary examples?

Mason – Before, when I thought of prison I envisioned it as violent, dangerous and boring. Now, I realize it is all what you make of it.

Matt – How young were you when you were first locked up?

Mason – I hit the circuit at the ripe old age of 13. I was in juvenile homes until I was 17. Then, I graduated to the big house. (Mason laughs, winks and gives Matt a goofy smile.)

Matt – How has being incarcerated affected the way in which you view life now?

Mason – Life is now like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.

Matt – Now that this life-changing event is almost behind you, please name a few of the life lessons you’ve learned that will follow you to freedom.

Mason – First, be careful who you associate with. Always keep a positive attitude, no matter what trials you may face. Make sure that God is in control of all of your life.

Between You and Me by Joseph Millar

One can’t help but notice the increasing moral decay taking hold within families and personal relationships today. In my twenty-eight years I have noticed this prevailing decline and have come to the sad conclusion that the resulting divides are becoming the norm. Divorce seems to happen more than marriage, which is impossible if you think about it. Domestic arrest rates are ever increasing in every age group. School yard and cyber bullying is so prevalent that it is being showcased online in the same manner as sports highlights.

My intention is NOT to rant about these occurrences, for everyone knows how common they are. I do want to shed light on a few of the precursors that I believe provoke these problems. What happened to the sense of well-being and happiness these problems replaced? Our mothers, fathers, peers, and children are looking for a false sense of peace and comfort in the bottle, the syringe, or another who is not their own. our families and friends are out-letting their anger, frustration and rage through constant aggression toward any and everyone; especially the ones that they love. These avenues by their very nature all saturate life with dis-contend and erode our already withering society. Don’t think for a moment our children are immune. For even in today’s world the social strains of youth can, and often do, extinguish the spirit of the young to depressed state of melancholy and depression. Sadly, there seems to be no sanctuary from it all because everyday we bring some of this negativity home and share it with the ones we love.

But Why?

Notice, the population’s fascination of “reality television” programs that portray the constant degradation of each other. The axis they all spin on is one of drama (fake or real) and immaturity. They seem to say, “Let’s go hangout with people we hate, talk bad about, start fights, defile ourselves, and turn up the drama. Aren’t we cool?” NOT AT ALL! But TV programming shouts to us that it’s okay and accepted. Every time they air one of these shows they are simultaneously cloning copies of these character-lacking-characters in the viewing audience.

Couple this with the fact that social media has made society more decadent. These two seemingly work in tandem. It’s a shame because social media could definitely be an asset in connecting people’s hearts and minds if it wasn’t constantly used as a forum for hateful comments, slander, and battles of self-righteous uninformed opinion that rob all involved parties of dignity.

Reality TV and social media consumes way too much time in our lives. In an age where everything is external, we are starting to view each other as less than human and more like profiles that can be added or deleted with an insult and a swipe of the finger.

When we as a nation started idolizing and mimicking cultural ideas that do not originate in our hearts, we became our own cancer. Something that started off as simple as entertainment has shaped the cracked mirror where we would see our reflection if only we’d looked. We emulate this culture of perpetual dysfunction and it has bled into the many aspects of life that we hold dear. The women in our lives are being degraded and the men are not respected or respectable. A horrible example is being set for our young.

By emulating the behaviors we find entertaining instead of honorable, we add to the moral decay of society and interpersonal relationships. This makes growth, harmony and well-being elusive. If not checked, it will lead to the death of all things good and prosperous.

As we recognize these issues, there is hope. It’s not up to any one group or affiliation to make the necessary changes occur. We can no longer shift the responsibility of shaping the future to the shoulders of the teachers and politicians. It’s up to us.

Look at those whose actions you soul finds deplorable. Notice their habits and attitudes, because that is what fuels the outlook and behaviors that have led to the problems we face today. Then, vow to be different and oppose what would destroy our future. Open yourself to teaching and being taught about what we can do to make healthy relationships. This is a standard we can model before our children, rather than letting television provide the model.

We owe it to ourselves and to others to make better friends of our children, spouses and peers. We don’t have to emulate the latest reality TV or sports star. We can give them the tried and true example of a responsible and loving life.

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