Our mission to positively impact the lives of other human beings has taken us down many paths. Week after week we volunteer with nonprofits, support special causes, and search for opportunities to help. We have learned to open our eyes and see the opportunities that exist each and every day to make a difference. We know that simple gestures have unlimited potential to change and improve lives. This week, I explored something new, something different. A new opportunity that challenged me to overcome prior judgements and perceptions. It was a chance for me to step outside of my comfort zone and invest time in a person who needs something positive. An individual who needs some form of support. A human being in need of fellowship. I reached out to a man behind bars.
In the past, this is something I would not have done. I have never had a desire to talk to, empathize with, or help someone who was convicted of a crime. Nonetheless someone in a maximum security prison. I will admit that I have lived most of life with a “lock them up and throw away the key” attitude. Criminals were criminals regardless of the crime. I wanted them to be put away and suffer all consequences. Today, I am not afraid to admit that my attitude was very short-sided. Crimes are crimes and my attitude towards breaking the law and harming others will never waver. What has changed, however, is my view of the individual and their ability for change and resurrection. This project has opened my eyes to community issues, social injustices, and second chances. We have all made mistakes in our lives. We have made poor decisions that have caused harm, in some form, to others. In many cases someone gave us a second chance. We have had people in our lives that loved us, supported us, and helped us improve while we were at the lowest of the lows. I am working to not pass judgment. I want to help, and impact, anyone that I can.
WriteAPrisoner.com is a social website dedicated to positive change for inmates. It is a pen-pal style program that gives the public the opportunity to connect with those incarcerated around the country. The website provides profiles on inmates that feature personal bios and information about their crimes. I spent time looking through a few of the profiles in an effort to learn as much as possible. After my research, I sat down and wrote a letter to inmate names Dennis. He is serving a life sentence for drug trafficking, gun charges, and murder. He is six years into his life sentence in an Indiana prison. My letter was an introduction to who I am. Based on his profile we share the love of basketball and desire to write something meaningful. The letter was short and to the point. Now I wait. I wait to see if Dennis will respond to my outreached hand of support.
I am sure there will be some who read this that disagree with my actions. They will be the people who shared my former attitude. That is fine with me. My goal to make a difference in this world. I want to positively impact as many people as I can while on this earth. This week, I reached out to someone who needs someone positive. It just so happens that he is behind bars in prison. I encourage you to reach out to someone in need. They do not have to be in prison. It can be your neighbor, a co-worker, or a complete stranger. Just reach out and offer your support. Be the light in darkness that we all need and that we all deserve.