I grew up in the fifties and sixties. I remember discrimination, war, assassinations, and riots. Somehow, through all of it, I had thought we, as a country, had gotten past all the hatred, anger, and fear. For me, those years were impressionable years where emotions ran high and sorrow and loss seemed to affect everyone in similar ways. Yet, I look around me today and I see worse than I remember from back then.
To be fair, young people today didn’t experience those times. Youth growing up today have witnessed a culture of violence where heroes of movies seem to be those who are most destructive, not save-the-day heroes like Superman or The Lone Ranger. Video games are not worth buying if they don’t include sex, explosions, or some ghoulish aberration like skulls to flaunt. Hatred and intolerance surround us once again, but now we have expanded our discriminatory tendencies to gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals.
When will it all stop? I do not see more hatred and more anger as being solutions. Okay, I admit it: I also grew up when hippies spoke out for peace and love. It was, in my opinion, a far better way to live, and a far better time in which to live. If history truly repeats itself, I’m hoping and praying for a peaceful revolution where peace, love and non-violence reign.
Peace…love…harmony…. Can’t we all just get along??? I long for that day.
My observation to share with you today is that expectations can change a life. If your reaction to this statement is disbelief, simply think about it. Words alone can empower a person, or defeat them. I bet every one of you remember at least one comment that was made while you were growing up. It may have been something like, “You’re fat,” or, “How I wish you could be more like ____ (fill in the blank).” Worse yet, “You’ll never amount to anything!” These, often cruel, taunts (often by peers) remain with us for life. They surface when we are tired, depressed, or feeling defeated. From somewhere deep inside, we can hear a little voice from the past reminding us that we are still that same person. When we hear negatives like the comments above, especially when we hear them again and again, we begin to believe it to be true. We begin to believe the worst about ourselves.
Again, think back. If you were fortunate enough to have someone in your life who encouraged you, who spoke positive things about you, aren’t those the voices you want to remember when life seems at its worst? It doesn’t matter what color you are – this is a universal truth, the world over.
It is my opinion that there is a huge need within the prison system for a focus on rehabilitation. Too often, I hear comments like “They deserve it” or “Just throw away the key.” Sadly, people often live up to our expectations of them. If we constantly expect the worse, too often that is exactly what we receive. There are some, unfortunately, who won’t allow themselves to receive good things. But I urge you to keep encouraging them. Human nature responds to encouragement. Through our words alone, we have the power to make the world a much better place. Let us use that power. Today. Today, throw someone a lifeline and save them! It can happen.