I believe in Redemption –the ability to change regardless of what you have done. Much of our society views it as an “easy way out”, but a much more sincere process takes place.
As I stare at the Florida International University campus, I cannot help but reflect on a time where I condemned attending any university from my life. College was the very last place anyone would ever find me, and I was responsible for fabricating it that way. In middle and a fraction of high school, my mindset was to attend just to see how much havoc I could create. In actuality, I attended my class schedule about 45 days out of the entire school year because the remainder was either spent in detention or suspended at home. Needless to say, my grades weren’t picture perfect.
My family’s indefatigable efforts were ineffective as time and time again the same question came up: “How do you save a soul that doesn’t want to be saved?” I witnessed all the pain and frustration they felt, but I just could not grasp the concept of empathy and caring for anyone else other than yourself. I was selfish, and well aware of that fact. My dangerous path took me right into high school where an event occurred that would forever change the route of my future.
I witnessed the daunting murder of my cousin, Ernie, on January 1, 2003. We were both 15, and his “executioners” spared my life for a reason I will probably never know. Losing anyone close to you brings nothing but agony, but to witness it in the degree I experienced was an affliction I will never forget.
After his death, I yearned for answers: “Why not me, why him, what am I here for?” That incident forced me to take a long, hard look at the world I had constructed for myself, and showed me I needed a change.
Purging my life of everything I used to be was a battle unlike any other for me. People who I once roamed with considered me a traitor, while kids who I had hurt in my wild times still hated me, and the school’s administration never took my mother off speed dial. It was “Me against the World”, and I was determined to battle it, blow for blow.
As graduation time approached, I managed to haul my grade point average from a 0.8 to a grand 3.2, I was accepted to my first choice college, found a positive group of people to surround myself with, and even received sincere praise from the school’s staff that I once terrorized. I had no longer allowed my life to be dictated by blind ignorance.
I had redeemed myself.
A movie aired in 2004 on HBO entitled “Redemption” and its non-fictional story line centered on the most infamous Gangster in our time. His name was Stanley “Tookie” Williams, and the movie told the account of his rise to inner city power as founder of the “Crips” gang, his conviction of a heinous crime, and his attempt to make amends with all the destruction he had created.
In 24 years of incarceration, he initiated the “Protocol for Peace” between rival gangs all over the U.S., became a notable childrens’ author promoting peace and non-violence in his books, and was even nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, but in all of his accomplishments some could not let go of the past that closed the door on his freedom. He requested clemency before his execution, but it fell to deaf ears as it was denied, and on December 13, 2005, he was executed. His story touched me personally because I could not have related more. We were both better people because of mistakes and experiences in our lives, and were willing to start fresh because of that. Whether or not he was given legal clemency had no bearing on his own “Spiritual Amnesty”. He died knowing he changed his ways, and admitting his past was just that: his past.
He had redeemed himself.
The concept of Redemption is goes further than a meaningless “I’m Sorry”, so when someone does ask for it in life, it should be handed to them with arms wide open. The most difficult thing to anyone’s pride is to swallow it and admit you were wrong, but it is the most necessary in order to prove just how much you deserve it. So I believe deeply in Redemption. Without it, I would not have been able to believe in me!
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