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Dallas, I’m sorry for all the harm that I caused, and the heartache to you. I grew up void of the virtue and morals that would have made me a good neighbor, and I have betrayed you in the worst way.

And in this institution called prison, I resisted assimilation. And when the crucible crushed me and I saw that I was void inside, I set out on a journey of redemption and rehabilitation. This was not a hobby but my new way of life, building a firm foundation of those virtuous attachments.

Then, as I looked at everything that is going on in the world, I began to realize that the burden of assimilation that I resisted in here is out there too. I just didn’t notice it until I was confined. It has permeated every walk of life. Everyone is affected to some degree.

It’s most obvious negative sentiments are in the hate, racism and intolerance of people who are different. 

Feelings are very important. But they come and go, and they can lie to you. Our thoughts cause our feelings and if I told you something that provoked a certain feeling and you act upon that feeling, because we have been told “how you feel is ok,” are we any better than animals?

Where does “living by our feelings” take us, as individuals or as a nation?

If we are in this together — truly together — we must squash the sentiment. But how, when it is so prevalent? In his book, “Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South,” Osha Gray Davidson asks the question: “Imagine the difficulty of listening to and then accepting a truth that overturns everything you believe about the world. And not merely that, but a truth that informs you that, “The world is not what you think it is. And by the way, neither are you.” 

How many of us have the intellectual courage to consider, let alone accept, the truth when it demands so much?”

We, together, need to seek for that truth and let it envelope us, and to examine our feelings to see where they are coming from — a lie or the truth.

Ever since George Floyd, our nation has been in a civil unrest, with rioting and protesting for justice. I think it is crazy that a person, any person, would have to fight for justice in America today. But maybe that is just sentiment blinding me, making me think that there was equality already.

Fighting for justice makes me think of Martin Luther King. It must have taken all his courage and strength to fight for equality and justice in the 1960s, when that sentiment was even more obdurate. 

The lawmakers promise to change laws, but even then, will the laws fix hate and racism? How can a written law fix something in a man’s heart? 

Lawmakers, please change the laws. But for those laws to have an effect we must pass this one sentiment to our children, and others around us: “Don’t hate others because they are different.” 

We must get this truth into the hearts of the human race and squash the sentiment and remember: Liberty, true liberty, is NOT doing what we want but doing what we ought. 

Sam Adams said it best, “If you love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms.”

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

David Jones is a writer and the author of “Living in Reality: Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Prison.” He is incarcerated in Texas.