The much needed second chance
As the world celebrates Easter and Ramadan, it seems fitting to dedicate this month’s editorial to the very core of what they stand for – redemption. We have all failed, made mistakes, done things that we regret, we may have been judged and condemned for our actions… but, do we truly let our past define us? Are we forever expected to live under the shadow of our misdeeds?
We bring to you stories of people, who like us had their trials and temptations. It may even be fair to say that they have had it harder than many of us. What makes these speakers stand out is that despite their misgivings, they have accepted their shortcomings instead of running away from them. They have found a way to heal, not only themselves but also those around them.
Remember this – the light at the end of the tunnel is not the illusion. The tunnel is.
Our failures don’t define who we are; we are all worthy of redemption.
Shaka Senghor: Why your worst deeds don’t define you
Shaka Senghor’s story is a story of transformation like none you have heard before. A transformational journey of self reflection, forgiveness and the zeal to not be knocked down by one’s past.
In 1991, Shaka Senghor shot and killed a man. He was, according to him, “a drug dealer with a quick temper and a semi-automatic pistol.” Charged and jailed for second degree murder, you’d think that was the end of him. It wasn’t. Today he stands tall and tells a story so powerful; one that makes us introspect into our own darkened pasts. Much like him and many others in this world, we remain buried in the mistakes of our pasts, unable to forgive ourselves and move on.
“…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”
Senghor goes on to talk about how through acknowledgment, apologies, and atonement for his crime, he was not only able to find himself but also forgive himself. His story is a reminder that there is always a way back, for those who look for it.
John Legend: “Redemption Song”
Popular American singer, John Legend, treats us to his version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” Won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom?”
Through his Free America campaign, Legend seeks to encourage rehabilitation and healing in American prisons, jails and detention centers—and give hope to those who want to create a better life after serving their time.
“Imagine a world where healed people helped hurt people heal and become strong… We walk around smiling when inside we’re really screaming: freedom… we’re all serving time; we are just in different places…” Spoken words titled “Where I live”
With a spoken-word prelude from James Cavitt, an inmate at San Quentin State Prison, this talk makes us think about how we, as part of the so called civilian society, can help rehabilitate those previously incarcerated. Everyone deserves a second chance at life, a chance to remedy the wrong. They have after all paid the price for their crimes. It’s our turn to step forward and help them live a life of fulfillment and forgiveness rather than guilt and abandonment.
Jia Jiang: What I learned from 100 days of rejection
Jia Jiang adventures boldly into a territory so many of us fear: rejection.
In his story, he mentions the conflict that he faced between two opposing versions of himself – a rejected 6 year old versus a i-want-to-conjure-the-world 14 year old. Of course, the frightened 6 year old won until the day he decided to face rejection head on instead of running away. To do so, he challenged himself with a game called “Rejection Therapy” – a game where you go and “look” for rejection for a said period of time until you desensitize yourself from the pain! He did this for 100 days straight and with each new day, with each new challenge, he learned that once he stood his ground, by simply asking, he was able to open up possibilities where one could mostly expect a dead end.
“If I just don’t run even when I get rejected, I could actually turn a “No” into a “Yes”, and the magic word is “Why”
The likes of Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, Mandela are remembered for altering history. We know from each of their stories that their true journey began with the initial violent but crucial rejection that they had encountered. Embracing rejection is the only way to overcome them and release yourself from the shackles tying you down. Reject rejections and find yourself soaring high.