When the dirty cat showed up in the prison yard, I was one of the first to go out there and pet it. I hadn’t touched a cat or a dog for over 20 years. It was amazing to feel him under my hand and know that I was enriching the life of another creature with something as simple as my care. I believe that caring for something or someone in need is what makes us human.
Over the next few days, a group of prisoners always gathered in the yard. They stood around talking and taking turns in petting the cat. These were guys you wouldn’t usually find talking to each other. Bowls of milk and water appeared, along with bread. One prisoner brought out his small scissors and helped to cut the animal’s fur. People said, "That cat has come to the right place. He’s getting treated like a king."This was true. But as I watched, I was also thinking about what the cat was doing for us.
Instead of more programmes, more psychologists or treatment, what we really need is a chance to practise kindness ourselves. Not receive it, but give it.
Kindness is not a value that is encouraged here. It is often seen as weakness. Instead, the culture here encourages keeping your head down, minding your own business and never letting yourself be weak.
However, a dirty cat disrupted1 this code2 of prison culture. It did my heart good to see the effect he had on me and the men here. He didn’t have a PhD and he wasn’t a psychologist, but by simply saying, "I need some help here", he did something important to us. He needed us, and we need to be needed. I believe we all do.
1. disrupt v.扰乱；使中断
2. code n.行为规范
What did the prisoners do for the cat?
A. They supplied him with food.
B. They washed his fur.
C. They searched for his owner.
D. They made a shelter for him.