By Eddie Griffin
Monday, March 17, 2008
Why do you hate everybody? That question was once asked me by a prison secretary some 30 years ago when I was a very mean and angry man. She didn’t know that this was my “good side”. She didn’t know how many years it had been since I had last come into contact with human beings, for the last few years of my life, up to then, had been spent in solitary confinement.
I promised the government that I would be a good boy… no more riots, no more revolution, no more violence, no more escape attempts, no more hand-to-hand combat against prison guards.
Before they released me from my refrigerated strip cell, the warden made me promise that I would never be seen nor heard from again. Considering my dire situation, it was a promise I gladly made. But this didn’t make me a happy conformist overnight. I still had anger issues.
Once upon a time, they tried to put Eddie Griffin into some anger management class, as part of a guilty plea to domestic violence. The plea bargain was unacceptable.
Philosophically, I reject man-made anger management schemes. After all, what do the experts really know about human behavior and the thinking of man? This is why I have such a big problem with psychologists. (I call them “head shrinks”).
I have my own way of managing my own anger. I do it by self-suppression… self-contained rage, if you will. Whenever I get angry, I go on a hunger strike… fasting sometimes for days… three days… six days… fifteen days. While fasting, I cannot fight the empirical world, because my body is too busy fighting itself. All I can think about it food. By the time I finish fasting, I am weak, hungry, a little more humble, a little tolerant and enduring.
How hot is my rage? Let me say, sometimes you can fry an egg on my head.
In prison, I fasted a lot because I was the angriest man in America… so some people said. I was a die-hard Black Panther, one of the last of the unbroken black men who waged war against the government during times of racial tension. The time I spent in prison were mostly in facilities especially designed to break obstinate resisters like me.
By law, prison was where I was supposed to be. But I hated being locked up. It was not a ho-hum experience where men idle away their time. This was survival of the fittest gladiator school, where never there was a dull moment. And, in every maximum-security prison facility, there are inmates always secretly plotting how to escape. And, with 50 years hanging over me for a string of bank robberies and kidnappings, this was my thinking also.
I had successfully escaped once before, from a military prison stockade. But my second attempt was a disaster. Solitary confinement awaited me.
We had this insane plan to attack a guard tower with homemade rocket launchers. My partner in crime was an army specialist… just another angry black soldier gone bad during the Vietnam war era.
What was his crime? He was part of a conspiracy to plant land mines in the streets of Washington, D. C. Now he was planning to make rocket launchers and blast his way out of Marion Federal Prison. Sounded like a good idea to me at the time.
Not that I had a choice of cellblock mates, what sounded insane, at first, was that the rocket launchers would be made out of paper. But I didn’t know that by putting water on newspapers how it would dry out and harden like a brick. My partner showed me, not only that, by how he helped invent the disposal cardboard rocket launchers for the U.S. military. With prefab cardboard and copper wiring, he could fashion an electronically triggered monorail rocket launcher. In the meantime, I would manufacture the plastic explosives and make the warheads.
So serious was I that if a guard passed by my cell, he would only see a very solitary inmate pretending to be an intellectual, with stacks of books and scores of newspapers lying around, reading about world events on the outside world. But once out of sight, I would peel back the newspapers and returned to making plastic explosive putty and flatting it out between the sheets inside the newspapers. My tools were concealed in hollowed out books on the shelves. Another box of books under my bed concealed a homemade oven, lined with aluminum foil.
At night, after lockdown, I would pack the plastic explosives into metal battery casings, set them inside the oven, and heat it up by a rigged light bulb to dangle inside the box… smart idea, but faulty design.
In order to rig the light bulb, I had to tape one necked wire across the base of the bulb and the other wire around the side. Whenever I plugged the stripped electrical cord into the socket, the bulb would light up. The light was concealed inside the oven box, with flaps over the top, and positioned under my bed, so as not to be detected by prison guard or my cell neighbor.
The flaw was this. Whenever the bulb got hot, the tape would melt and the wire would slip off and the bulb would go out. Peeping under my bed, I could see when the light was off. Normally, it was nothing I would re-tape the necked wiring back to the bulb.
However, one night, I got careless in trying to re-tape the wire. I accidentally let the necked wires touch. A spark flashed and, in an instant, the packed battery canisters of explosives went off like Roman candles. Luckily, the canisters fizzled instead of explode. But it left a sulfur cloud inside my cell and out in the hall like a London fog, that not even a prison guard could miss it. And, it didn’t help that my fellow inmates were screaming, “Fire, fire.”
That was my last escape attempt. But it was not my last time visiting solitary confinement. Nine months, I stayed, after only being charged with setting a fire. So, the one-man revolution fought on, only to live another day.
[NOTE: The theme of this essay is anger management through the technique of fasting. But, of course, fasting alone could not quench my rage. It took prayer and the word of God to transform the angriest man in America.]
TO THE READER:
There are a number of subjects and issues related to the above essay. In recent times, we have seen a rash of mass murder and random shootings in schools, malls, churches, and places we would least expect it. We sat dumbfounded in our piteous amazement and ask, “Why?” Then we blindly ignore the obvious: These mass shooters have unresolved anger issues.
How do you deal with anger issues? That is the subject matter under observation through my own personal experience, once described as the “Angriest Man in America”.
The reason we, Americans, are blindsided by random violence is because we chose to ignore how we breed anger. And, most mass shooters have documented histories of psychological problems.
Where did the psychologists fail them? They diagnose right, but their treatment is wrong. Hence, the majority of the mass shooters today receive no effective treatment for their anger management issues. This is why I take issue with current anger management psychology.
(Please send Questions and Comments to Eddie Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Watch brief Video of One Flew Over the Coo-Coo Nest