Cosmic Crime Stopper

Forget police, courts, and rehabilitation centers. The way to solve America's crime problem is to cultivate good vibrations. That's the message of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, guru for the Beatles in the 1960s. Today he's become a crime fighter: For 10 cents per citizen per day, the Maharishi promises to clean up your city and eliminate crime. That's about $102 million a year for Chicago, $266 million for New York City. Here's how the program works: A group of professional meditators is imported into the city. They're housed in a luxury hotel where they can relax and think positive thoughts. (That's why the program is so expensive. Apparently you can't generate enough positive thoughts from a Motel 6.) The idea is that the meditators create a "field of consciousness," permeating the city through a sort of psychic osmosis. Enough good vibes can turn any city into an oasis of harmony, the Maharishi promises. It's painless and simple. Of course, it's really much too simple. The premise of the program is that crime is caused by stress. Eliminate stress, the Maharishi says, and you eliminate crime. But tragically, the facts show otherwise. If stress were the problem, you might expect crime to rise in times of national crisis, like depression and war. But as historian James Q. Wilson has discovered, during the Great Depression crime actually declined. It stayed low during World War II as well—then shot up in the peace and affluence of the 1960s. In fact, what Wilson discovered is that the best corollary of crime is the nation's moral health. Crime is lowest when society is permeated by strong religious values. It goes up when those values lose support in society: When entertainment programs flaunt immorality; when businesses are unethical; when churches soften the demands of the Bible; when families and schools lose their nerve to discipline the young. Crime is a mirror of a society's moral health. This is what I tell people who ask me why I'm doing this program, Break Point, after being involved for so many years in criminal justice issues through Prison Fellowship. The answer is that you can't fight crime just by fighting crime: You also have to address the general attitudes in society that allow crime to flourish in the first place. Crime is fundamentally a result of moral breakdown—and that means anything that leads to moral breakdown feeds the crime problem. We can laugh off the Maharishi's New Age concept of psychic osmosis. But, you know, there is something we might call moral osmosis: a general moral climate in society expressed in television, advertising, business practices, schools, and the way parents raise their children. In every corner of society, some attitude about morality is being taught. And that means crime is something we can all work on. Each one of us ought to ask ourselves this question: In our own lives, in our own spheres of influence, are we supporting the basic moral principles that restrain crime and build a strong society? If not . . . we ourselves are part of the crime problem. And the solution isn't good vibes; the solution is good morals.


Chuck Colson


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