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Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Story of Forgiveness, Atonement, and Redemption

Follow the link below, to watch a TED Talks video on forgivenessatonement, and redemption.  I assure you, GOoglers, that you will NOT regret watching the video and/or reading the excerpts, below,  from the transcript.  
Deeply insightful and inspirational!


Excerpts  from the TRANSCRIPT
"Twenty-three years ago, at the age of 19, I shot and killed a man. I was a young drug dealer with a quick temper and a semi-automatic pistol."

"But that wasn't the end of my story. In fact, it was the beginning, and the 23 years since is a story of acknowledgment, apology and atonement. But it didn't happen in the way that you might imagine or think. These things occurred in my life in a way that was surprising,especially to me."

"See, like many of you, growing up, I was an honor roll student, a scholarship student, with dreams of becoming a doctor. But things went dramatically wrong when my parents separated and eventually divorced."

"The actual events are pretty straightforward. At the age of 17, I got shot three times standing on the corner of my block in Detroit. My friend rushed me to the hospital. Doctors pulled the bullets out, patched me up, and sent me back to the same neighborhood where I got shot. Throughout this ordeal, no one hugged me, no one counseled me, no one told me I would be okay. No one told me that I would live in fear, that I would become paranoid, or that I would react hyper-violently to being shot.  No one told me that one day, I would become the person behind the trigger. Fourteen months later, at 2 a.m., I fired the shots that caused a man's death."

"When I entered prison, I was bitter, I was angry, I was hurt. I didn't want to take responsibility. I blamed everybody from my parents to the system. I rationalized my decision to shoot because in the hood where I come from, it's better to be the shooter than the person getting shot. As I sat in my cold cell, I felt helpless, unloved and abandoned. I felt like nobody cared, and I reacted with hostility to my confinement. And I found myself getting deeper and deeper into trouble. I ran black market stores, I loan sharked, and I sold drugs that were illegally smuggled into the prison. I had in fact become what the warden of the Michigan Reformatory called "the worst of the worst." And because of my activity, I landed in solitary confinement for seven and a half years out of my incarceration."

"... but unfortunately the system that currently holds 2.5 million people in prison is designed to warehouse as opposed to rehabilitate or transform. So I made it up in my mind that if I was ever released from prison that I would do everything in my power to help change that."

 "And one of the things that we talked about is the three things that I found important in my personal transformation, the first being acknowledgment. I had to acknowledge that I had hurt others. I also had to acknowledge that I had been hurt. The second thing was apologizing. I had to apologize to the people I had hurt. Even though I had no expectations of them accepting it, it was important to do because it was the right thing. But I also had to apologize to myself. The third thing was atoning. For me, atoning meant going back into my community and working with at-risk youth who were on the same path, but also becoming at one with myself."

"Through my experience of being locked up, one of the things I discovered is this: the majority of men and women who are incarcerated are redeemable, and the fact is, 90 percent of the men and women who are incarcerated will at some point return to the community, and we have a role in determining what kind of men and women return to our community."
"My wish today is that we will embrace a more empathetic approach toward how we deal with mass incarceration, that we will do away with the lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key mentality, because it's proven it doesn't work."
"My journey is a unique journey, but it doesn't have to be that way. Anybody can have a transformation if we create the space for that to happen. So what I'm asking today is that you envision a world where men and women aren't held hostage to their pasts, where misdeeds and mistakes don't define you for the rest of your life. I think collectively, we can create that reality, and I hope you do too."

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