The penitentiary is full of desperation. In such a dark place for such a long time, the aliment of the human condition and all its imperfection is sure to come to surface. It is not hard to imagine how undervalued the virtue of integrity may be to a person fully submerged in the distractions of our modern society and all the demands that come from it. Even behind the prison walls, there is a heavy emphasis on respect (an essential concept for the coexistence of men forced to live in extremely close quarters), but integrity becomes more of footnote to such an idea.
I have been incarcerated for over a decade and one thing I’ve come to fully understand is that my power to change is firmly rooted deep within my sense of self — my integrity. In the menagerie of men, concrete, and steel, it is easy to drift into a sea of obscurity — a place where you can easily lose yourself… the acquisition of integrity is the only thing that can help you maintain. Maintaining your identity is a necessary key in the goal of greater self discovery and personal growth and the overcoming of the sad state that is arrested development experienced by many who are imprisoned.
To be a raindrop in the middle of the ocean and maintain your shape… that is integrity. I’ve found my search for greater integrity has lead me to seek a greater grasp on truth, admire honesty, and achieve a level of character that is solid, sturdy, and principled. I’ve found that in the course of being encouraged to be honesty with others, I’ve gain a more objective outlook in general and inevitably, I am more honest with myself– this is the strength of integrity.
I cannot imagine my life without being on this journey. It has improved my life immeasurably. My self image is incorrigible, my relationships have improved with family and friends, and I feel like there is direction for my future, even after being behind bars for so long. Purpose, cause, and destiny have all become perceivable to me through eyes of integrity.