Lack of Interest

I write to a woman in prison. She’s been there for a very long time. She has been a good prisoner. She’s tried appealing to the parole board without success. And she is tired of it all. She is in good physical health. What does she have to look forward to? More of the same…and she knows it.

How does one try to lighten the load for someone like that? What hope, what encouragement, can we give her? It seems like such a shame, and such a waste of talent and ability. This woman doesn’t need rehabilitation (not that she would receive it, anyway). She holds down a job, tries to be as productive as she can be within her setting, and strives to be a good person. What she needs is to be able to develop her talents and to become a productive member of society!

I’m not sure I believe in life imprisonment. Oh, certainly there are some individuals we should keep out of society, but I think people can change. I believe people grow, even in prison. The stark contrast of prison life with a life of freedom must certainly be shocking. Indeed, a period of anger and resentment might be a necessary experience for some. But Michigan has hung on to its prisoners for far too long. Michigan seems content to be a festering warehouse for individuals who have lost hope.

I believe this woman has a gift. If she has not yet found it, she will. I believe that, even within prison, good can come from her very presence there and that she can thrive. Yes, I believe she has a purpose. Still…it would help if she believed that herself.

Beyond the Imperfections

As young people, we believe we are invincible. Soon we begin to realize the imperfections of others. Finally, often much later in life, we recognize and admit our own imperfections. Perhaps it is the recognition of our imperfections that gives peace. When you realize you are NOT perfect and that you don’t have to BE perfect, it is much easier to accept yourself (and others) where you are and move forward from there. When you are constantly striving to be something or someone that you are not, you inadvertently create a great deal more stress in your life that needn’t be there.

I have a friend who is in prison. He longs to be released to be a productive person in society. However, due to many circumstances, that dream may be only that, a dream, and I think he has realized that. I never cease to be amazed at his attitude, though. Instead of wallowing in self pity, he now looks for ways within the prison to help others. He figures that maybe God’s plan is for him to help those within. And he does exactly that. He shares his snacks with those who are still hungry. He assists those who are physically challenged. He tries to talk with those he thinks his acquired wisdom might help.

Life doesn’t always turn out as we would like. That doesn’t mean, however, that we should give up. When we accept the things we cannot change about ourselves and our circumstances, and when we realize our strengths, it is quite possible to move ahead and make a difference, no matter how badly we have messed up in the past.

When you can look beyond disfigurements, addictions, mental and emotional challenges, and see the beauty of every individual…you have seen, reached out to, and touched the hand of God.

A Rant: Man’s Humanity to Man

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”  Mark Twain. Dr. Thomas Dooley described gentleness as “…the force that can relieve ugliness and tragedy.“

Sadly, it is all too easy to find ugliness and tragedy in today’s world. Prisoners are treated as worthless objects, rather than human beings made in God’s image. Lack of appropriate mental health care in prisons and in communities leads to a high percentage of mentally ill being charged with criminal behavior, when what they really need is treatment, not punishment. Michigan ranks thirteenth among fifty states for number of individuals incarcerated. Twenty percent of Michigan’s 43,000 prisoners are severely mentally ill.

Adults and children go hungry every day in these “united” states. There are an estimated 700,000 to two million that are homeless in our nation. In 2010 forty-six million Americans were estimated to be living in poverty. As life becomes more difficult for those on fixed incomes to make ends meet, it certainly appears that rich, corporate America grows richer.

I will probably never have the means to make a difference for anyone financially, but I see such waste out there…. Materialism abounds. Service pays the price. Monies allocated to programs that make a difference are being cut, even though needs remain unaddressed and continue to grow. Programs that produce positive results are being eliminated.

I didn’t begin this entry to produce a political diatribe, but I am so frustrated! People I care about are hurting…and help just doesn’t seem to be available. It is rather appalling to realize that political decisions made nearly two decades ago are still adversely affecting Americans today. The response from many of the “haves” is that volunteers should take care of those in need. Well, today I am here to lament even the absence of volunteers! Too many individuals seem consumed only with their OWN lives. They’re too busy, too tired, and they don’t want to make “that kind” or “that long” of a commitment.

Yet, time and again, when kindness and gentleness are shown, amazing things occur. Positive change produces positive results. Good things happen when gentleness and compassion are applied. How is that not possible for people to recognize? How can we ALL turn our backs on our brothers and sisters in need?

Today I am tired of politicians’ rhetoric and actions. I’m appalled by our nation’s LACK of humanity toward our own people. I want CHANGE. I want to, once again, be able to say I’m proud to be an American, and a resident of Michigan. (Today I am not so proud to be either.) I want to be surrounded by people who CARE about others, and who recognize individuals as unique treasures. I want to know more people like Mark Twain and Tom Dooley. Right now, I know far too few.


I struggle with reliving past mistakes. Shoulda. Coulda. They say hindsight is 20/20…. I will probably always have regrets. But what good does it do to go over and over past mistakes without moving forward?

Do I seek forgiveness for misdeeds of the past? Yes. Have I learned from past behaviors? Yes. Can I change the past? No…but I can change the future.

Do I doubt myself? Often. Do I doubt my faith? Many times. These days I am trying to listen to that Voice within. Have I chosen the right path? Where do I go from here? Have I done what I am supposed to do? Is there more that is expected of me?

I see nothing positive from remaining stuck in the past. Regardless of whatever I have -or have not – accomplished to date, I do not believe my work is done. Do I know what that mission is, or in what direction I am headed? No. But I do know that, with each new day, I am trying to live a good life. With each new day, I am looking for new meaning to why I am here. I believe I have something to offer to someone, every day that I’m alive. Even if I don’t recognize a purpose, I believe God has one for me.

Therefore, my resolve is to keep on keeping on with each new day. I intend to trust that there is a reason I am where I am, and around the people I meet each day. I hope to do better. I hope to actually envision a purpose for myself, but until I am able to do that, I simply will try to be the best person I can be…today.