by David Childress
I have some ideas that will give you incentive to trust and forgive an inmate. I agree that a lot of my inmate “peers”, if you will, are not trustworthy. But I don’t agree that people who are here should be stigmatized because of others. The only distinction of note between inmate and free citizen is that we’re being detained for a crime. In my case, if I were actually a mass murderer, crazy, malicious, etc., I would have been put in a mental institution. But the fact is that I’m in a regular prison because punishment had to be given for the crime I committed. In fact, my official status is “State-approved Trustee, Class 3: General Population 2” which means I’m only one step from having free movement and having a job where I go to the “free world” to work. In ten years, I haven’t had a single case that’s major. I got in trouble for having a moustache 1/32 of an inch long, disobeying an order to pick up another inmate’s soiled underwear without gloves, having an extra towel, minor infringements, all of which are not illegal if I weren’t in prison. They aren’t even sensible. I regularly oppose injustice, immorality, unethical behavior amongst these guys. Recently, I didn’t even fight back when another inmate was punching me after I asked him to deal more peacefully with me about aggression he had. I chose to… and not because I was scared, but because it was wise. I regularly write my two supporters about my desire to be productive, to help people, to be active in my community, about how I believe in doing what’s right. I have a college trade, I read and study proper parenting, all that. I read the Bible every day and make sure I pray for everyone, including enemies before myself. I worship Jesus. I also readily admit I did a bad thing and deserved punishment. I accept that. There were things I could have done to possibly change my situation, though I didn’t know it at the time.
But I said ideas at the beginning, right? Those were some reasons you can trust me personally. Here’s my ideas. How does anyone trust a person? The only way is to take a risk and give them a chance. No one knows what a person will do or how they’ll act until we let them. The reason you should trust is hope. Some people get everything taken away, live in squalor amidst men of evil, some of good. They get time to think about life, other people and all of the value. Those people sometimes change. Don’t you believe that? Change? If justice works then don’t you believe it’s worked on me? I wasn’t too bad to begin with anyway. I reacted horribly, yes, but I wasn’t a crook. If you don’t trust me yet, do you trust your fellow civilians? You know others who are in contact with prisoners. Some of them only know us from letters and visits so they aren’t disposed to see us in a positive light as a family member or lifetime friend might. Well, they trust us. By extension of that, you can trust some of us. What about forgiveness? The better question is this: who is forgiveness for? Forgiveness is something the wronged one does, but it benefits both parties. Think about it. Do you believe that holding anger and unforgiveness help anyone? Does it equalize the scale or does it make your actions justified? No. It hurts you. It lingers in your soul like poison in the veins. It spreads. I used to hate my mother and father, and kids who tormented me. After ten years, I now know it only hurt me. So, I let it go and truly forgave them. I am at peace with that, though I still struggle with my feelings. But I don’t have the hatred.
In conclusion, there are quite a few reasons to trust and forgive some prisoners. Distrust and unforgiveness stops the peaceable connections you can forge. Alienation is akin to destroying Jews like Hitler did because of blind hate and perceived wrongs, only in a non-physical way. It is important to a person’s growth knowing people will give you a second chance and that they’re willing to let you in. When the world is against you, you feel like there’s no hope. You start to lose faith in others and that maybe it’s meaningless to be a good, new man. I have hope that people can change. I did. Do you have what it takes to change as well? To trust and forgive? Be part of the solution, not the problem. Let’s make peace.
Groove of the Day
62° and Clear