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Confrontation and Redemption

Posted: 2003-07-12

Here is a remarkable snippet from a day at the World of Opportunity, a portrait of a teacher trying to help a student learn about confrontation and redemption--through words of reconciliation.

How objective can a

subjective teacher be?

James just turned 16.

That's a dangerous age

for a young man

in this community.

Had he turned 14,

I would have wrote:

That's a dangerous age

for a young man

in this community.

James' Dad is about 32.

That's a dangerous age

for a young man

in this community.

James caught my attention.

I met him when he was volunteering

as a counselor

for the Summer Youth Camp

across the street from the

World of Opportunity (WOO).

One day, James wandered into the


He said, "I need some money."

He wasn't begging in the slightest.

He was searching.

Searching for an honest way to make a living.

"I volunteer at the camp, but I don't

get paid nothing.

I need some money.

But I keep volunteering because

they give me a free breakfast

and a free lunch

and I figure that takes a load

off my Dad."

Takes a load off my Dad!!!! ???? !!!

Can you imagine?

Have you ever?

How many 16 year old kids

do you know

that consider

how they can take a load

off their parents?


there are thousands

who have to worry about such.

Who can worry about

fancy rims on "tight whip" cars

when you've got to worry about breakfast

and lunch?

Since I met James, he has

been perpetually hungry.

(And we're addressing that).

Worrying about taking a load off his Dad....

I couldn't get this

off of my mind.

So I got to thinking,

where would it be possible

to locate James

a small job

where he could at least

make some spare change?

There are so few opportunities

in this land-locked


buildings-boarded up


Few opportunities for life

few chances to escape this peril

and a million temptations

to dance with death.

And then I thought

of the good fellow

up the street

who owns

one of the two

markets in this neighborhood.

He's on our Community Advisory Board

so you know he's a good fellow.

How could he be anything

other than a good fellow.

Without even blinking an eye,

he listened to James' story

through my lips and heart

and he said,

sight unseen,


I'll find a couple of hours

of work.

I'll interview him.

We'll give it a try."

That's the spirit of a community

Advisory Board.

So I told James

and he was excited.

He was fidgety

as I prepared a referral letter

for him to give

to the shop owner.

We folded it neatly

and put it

in an envelope.

I handed it to James



his back straightened up

like a man about to

step up to a ladder

on a space ship

that would

take him to the moon.

A smile came over

his sullen face

because he knew

that he was about to go out

and make a million dollars.

"I'm gonna make a lot

of money and take care of my Dad

because he's the ONLY one who

has ever taken care of me."

He marched up the street to

sow his fortune.

He came back

awfully quick.




very much too quick.

What happened?, I asked.

"Well, if you would have told me

that it was HIM,

I would've known

this wouldn't work."

Did you and him get into it?




Did you exchange words?


Were you abusive?


Did you cuss?


But I only did that

outside the store.


oh, yah,

I gave him my middle finger."

What was this all about?


He wanted to charge me

7 percent tax

for a soft drink.

That's unfair."

But, he doesn't set the tax rate.


The State of Alabama sets the tax rate.


So, your beef isn't with him, it with the State.

"Oh.......Well, what do I do now?"

Are you willing to apologize?

"How can I? How would I?"

Well.......how about writing a poem?

(I had seen some of James' poetry already

and admired his ways of expression.)

He dashed off to a WOO

desk and began

writing feverishly.

James has poor eye sight

from a serious injury

so he puts his nose

write into the paper

as he writes

and writes.

And within minutes

no more than five,

he hands me his paper.

I read it.

Three-hole punched

lined school paper.

But as I read it,

this is no ordinary

piece of paper.

I think it must be canvas.


With fresh paint

of many hues

drying on it.


rather than throw poetry

in your face

or across your monitor,

I urge you to go to the WOO website

and click on NEWS,

and look for today's date,

July 11, 2003,

and read what James

came up with.

Get a glimpse

of restorative justice

as attempted at the WOO.

Get a feel for how our future thinks.

I know James would love to hear

what you think.

And, I would like to indulge you

to share

what I think

about this

before you even read his poem....

There is no bubblized test

in this world

which could measure

the lessons which James

has accumulated

in his life

and on this day.

Nor, is there a standard or a test

which could measure

what we

have learned from James

since our lives

have crossed paths.

The website for the World of Opportunity (WOO)



Be sure to click on "NEWS" to get

to James' poetry--and other poems

Warmest peacebuilding greetings to one and all,

Steve Orel

World of Opportunity

Here is the response of confrontation and redemption:

July 11, 2003


A poem by Chaos, (aka: James Hall)


So I walked in the store

grabbed a sprite

tax was high

so I picked a fight

wasn't right

it was just wrong

but I thought the tax was

too long

argued badly

had some words

outside still arguing with the


got home

starting to drink my sprite

for me it was the end

the end of the night

come to find out

supposed to be my boss

in the confrontation

guess that I lost.


? Copyright 2003, by James Hall

WOO resident poet

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