I watched “Redemption” last night. It’s the story of Stan Tookie Williams, co-founder of LA’s Crips gang.
Redemption shows how Williams, (played by Jamie Foxx) while serving a couple of decades on death row turned his life around and became an anti-gang activist. He wrote a number of anti-gang children’s books and for all of his work endorsing non-violence was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. It’s a compelling story.
In one scene Stan Williams is telling Barbara Becnel, co-author of his books and his spokesperson, that he “learned early in life that violence works and the more savage the violence the better it works.” Later Williams explains his thinking in the founding of the Crips. “I thought I could cleanse the neighborhood of all these, you know, marauding gangs. But I was totally wrong. And eventually, we morphed into the monster we were addressing.”
I recall reading a quote by (I believe) the Israeli Minister of Defence that went something like: We need to create an environment where Palestine understands that the cost of any aggression towards Israel is simply too high. Israel, like the USA, like all warring countries and factions believe that heightened violence is conclusive violence. This is what Stan Tookie Williams once believed.
But the wisdom of the “redeemed” Stan Williams is that he recognized that through violence, he became, with his gang, the “monster they were addressing.” This is wisdom lost on Israel and the USA, so far.