A Time for Change

I am not a fan of Michigan’s correctional system. MDOC’s motto of “Expecting Excellence Every Day” all too often makes a mockery of those words. If fairness and decency and compassion are among the standards intended behind that motto, those behaviors are, unfortunately, often not the ones exhibited. Sadly, inequality, prejudice, greed, and hatred are among the attitudes we do see in today’s world – not only behind prison walls.

This past week’s tragic shooting of 20 elementary school children causes us to wonder at the ever-increasing violence in today’s society. The political scene seems to have become more a game of “chicken,” than a vehicle for common good. Respect and cooperation seem to have become things of the past.

So, how can we find something positive to guide us, to refresh us? WHERE IS THE GOOD?

The good is found within each and every one of us. The guard who doesn’t join in with others guards who are making fun of a mentally challenged prisoner…the individual who decides to patiently listen to a person who talks incessantly…the worker who goes just a little bit beyond what is expected of him – goodness begins within US! Simply being exposed to evil doesn’t make us bad. In fact, being exposed to evil can allow us to see positive alternatives.

Most of us do not want to be part of the evil that surrounds us. The time is ripe for change, for making a positive difference now, no matter who or where you are. I would like to challenge you to adopt the MDOC’s motto for yourself. It is not a bad motto. Go one step beyond what is expected of you, each and every day. Pay it forward. You will, by your efforts, be making the world just a little bit better place, and you yourself will be uplifted to be part of the winds of change.

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The Prisoner's Prayer Book

Louise is author of The Prisoner's Prayer Book which evolved as she became a volunteer in prison ministry. Retired from a career in social services, Louise resides in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.