Saturday, August 1, 2015

New Post: "The Trouble with Being a Criminal"

The Trouble with Being a Criminal

When I sit to write this blog,
it is for you,
and everyone who can gain any kind of hope or peace through it.

When I write, I also gain a better understanding of who I am,
including the time before I was arrested,
and all that has happened since.

Recently someone challenged me with the idea that I am not a real "criminal".
Let me be clear - I do not wear the title as a type of 'honor',
but since acquiring the status,
I realize how much hypocrisy we all live in.

I also have better awareness to see the pain we each struggle through.

We all have insecurities we attempt to deal with,
lies that we hide,
and personal identities that are constantly eroding...
being washed away with the changing tides of life.

Let me share part of the 'challenge', and why it lives in a pool of dishonesty.

The two premise were that: 
1) since I spent less than two-years incarcerated, and
2) because I may have the chance to have my record expunged, then
3) I do not qualify as a real criminal.

And here is the first argument to present:
When he and I are released from prison, 
we both wear the same title of "ex-con",
we both report to a parole officer, and
we both struggle to find work due our status.
My length of time in prison doesnt change this.

My cell-mate was incarcerated for nineteen-years before I met him,
he had a solid head on his shoulders, 
was repentant for his crime,
but the main thing was he quit lying to himself.

He pointed out the 'insider's language' that says a person's felony-charge
may really make them only an 'offender', not a true 'criminal'.
He then said how this lie is meant to make us feel better about who we are,
that somehow we are better or worse because of the nature of our crimes.

During my time at the states only maximum security prison with death-row inmates,
he and I faced the same challenges each day:
1) we witnessed man-on-man rape,
2) gang-violence,
3) stabbings, death, blood, beatings, and
4) we struggled each day with having our privileges taken away,
 and more of restrictions imposed on us.

In other words, my time incarcerated didnt protect me from the worst events.

And yet we both looked forward to some simply pleasures after release:
1) riding a city bus to see everything outside the walls,
2) eating whatever food, and as much as we wanted, and
3) seeing people who arent convicts who we could possibly even talk to.

To conclude:
  • no one likes criminals, 
    • not politicians or law enforcement,
    • not employers or co-workers,
    • not the general public,
    • not even another criminal, partly because...
  • we all want to be trusted and accepted by someone else,
  • we all want to believe we are capable of becoming more,
  • we all want to feel safe, that somehow we matter, and
  • we want to belong to something which we gives us an identity we desire.  
The trouble with being a criminal is - we dont like what it says about us,
either to ourselves or the world.

But your identity doesnt have to stop there.
We can claim a new identity!
Where will you turn to find yours?

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