In planning for our upcoming TEDx event, I got to spend Easter Sunday at the Donovan prison in San Dieg. Wow. What an incredibly moving experience to get to connect with inmates and hear them share pieces of their life. One man got up who has been in prison for 20 years. He had shared that at the time of sentencing if he would have pleaded guilty he would only have been given 12 years, in other words he would have been released 8 years ago today. He did not plead guilty and was sentenced 40 years to life. He'll be up for parole in his 70's. As I sit here writing this my mind is in a state of disbelief. What would I do if I had to create my world within the walls of a prison for the rest of my life? How would I keep myself going, how would I find purpose? In trying to process this, chills run through my body and I look around with such gratitude for all that I have. This inmate was so humbled and spoke in a way that I could feel his pain, he talked about how grateful he was for being in prison because it had him realize how much he had hurt others. I could feel his remorse and it was whole-hearted. Listening to him had me look at my own actions and wonder who I've hurt without being aware of it. It's so easy to have no clue how your actions impact others. I don't know these men's full stories or what life was like for them before prison but what I do know is that "hurt people, hurt people". And while I do feel we are all responsible for our own actions and that there are consequences tied to that, I also feel part of that responsibility is to have compassion for all walks of life because unless you've lived my life or I've lived yours, we can't say for sure we could have done better. We can only speak from our own journey which immediately already taints our beliefs and ways of thinking. It's impossible to truly understand how life's events have shaped another's actions.
I left Donovan feeling very choked-up realizing how precious this life is and because I was dealt the royal-flush-hand at life, feeling an even bigger responsibility to humanity from being so blessed. What if we were all softer to the ones that hurt us or rubbed us the wrong way? That's something I'm working on myself, patience and compassion during those times because "hurt people, hurt people" and we've all been there.