Saturday, April 16, 2011

Reverence for Life...Take Action

It's interesting how life works, isn't it?  We are brought the very challenges we need at just the right time.  I cannot say I would have asked for any of my particular challenges, at least not outright, but certainly they were presented.  In each instance, it has always been clear to me that I was in charge of how I responded, for that is really all I have control attitudes.  As a result of that awareness I redefine challenges as opportunities.

I have been drawn to the works of Albert Schweitzer for as far back as I can remember.  A German man of many talents: he built organs, became an acclaimed organist, a church pastor and a university professor with a doctorate in philosophy.  At the age of 30, aware of the need for medical care in Africa, he decided to become a medical doctor and devote the rest of his life to serving these people.  At the age of 37 he opened a hospital in Lambarene, Gabon - at the time a French province in Equatorial Africa.  He continued there until his death, at the age of 90, traveling back and forth to Europe for fundraising and gathering of supplies over the years.  During World War I, both Schweitzer and his wife were imprisoned in France until the war was over, both becoming very ill because of the conditions in the prison.  In his life he wrote several books, my favorite is "Reverence For Life".  Schweitzer was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 78.

Reverence for Life is a philosophy and speaks to our responsibility for all that we do, and calls upon us to have awareness and respect for all living things.  A simple message that gets overlooked so easily.

The other author who has had a significant influence in my life is Viktor Frankl with his book "Man's Search for Meaning".  Frankl was a Holocaust survivor and speaks to our responsibility to choose our attitude in any given circumstance, thus his own survival in a concentration camp of World War II.  He went on to become a professor of psychiatry and neurology plus an author of several books, helping many in the healing of their lives.

Both Schweitzer and Frankl lived challenging lives, helped others and believed strongly in always doing the next right thing.  Both wrote on the importance of attitude and awareness.  Both were imprisoned as innocent men.  Both were men of action, absolutely committed to making life better for others.  Both have been quoted saying that words are meaningless without action.  How can I not take action in my own life when I championed the lives and causes of these two men?  My belief in Jesus and all His promises is the foundation setting underneath all of this...and probably the reason for my draw to the works of these two men in the first place. 

Is it any wonder that I had a child whose personality and life were imprisoned with autism, giving me the opportunity of my life to connect and make certain he knew of my love for him.  But I never really wanted to stop there, I wanted to share what I knew with other families.  I still plan to continue in several different ways, by setting up a business that promotes a product for the nutritional needs of these kids whose immune systems are compromised, by writing books (for which I have partial drafts of two books) and by getting involved in working with these kids again.  Although this time I will include the young adults as my sweet Nate is now almost 20 years old.

Then of all things, I also had to endure life in prison, while falsely accused and wrongly convicted.  But didn't the writings of Schweitzer and Frankl influence my response, allowing me to come home further enriched.  I believe they must have.  And now that I am out of prison I feel just as strongly a need to help victims of the justice system as my need to help those afflicted with autism (both child and family).  But to just speak it, to just write in a blog about it, is not enough.  I have decided I must take action.

Through my experience of the justice system, I learned what is going on "inside", both inside the court room and inside the county jail and state prison.  I learned there are so many people imprisoned in Texas who could more effectively be helped by rehabilitation.  Like a dry alcoholic, they walk out of prison with all the same hungers....the addiction has not been confronted and healed, it may have been touched on at a superficial level.  Some people are lucky enough to just quit, once clean for a time, but most are still driven by that addiction.  They must do the healing of the underlying causes for their addictions, or they will be right back at it, medicating their pain.  When I say that recidivism is not being addressed, this is what I am talking about.  By not healing these people (those that are willing - which in my experience are numerous) then we are just providing a revolving door within the criminal justice system.

Further, EDUCATION!!  It must be increased.  Many of those imprisoned are without proper education.  We are not preparing people to reenter society with skills that will keep them from falling back into trouble.  People leaving prison have got to be employable.  Many are not, thus moving back into illegal activities to provide a living or means of survival.  Are we for our people in this country or not?  It is so difficult to get my arms around the fact that we are one of the most advanced countries on this earth, yet so many people are falling through the cracks. 

On the employable issue there is yet another piece.   Twenty one percent of Americans have a "criminal background" given our runaway justice system.  Their must be a shift in thinking by recruiters and employers or there will be no hiring of those with criminal backgrounds, thus increasing our government subsidy programs (food stamps, Medicaid, MHMR payments, TANF, etc).  What many people do not realize is this group can be the hardest workers, with some of the best work ethics, as they are motivated to prove they are worthy.  Positive reinforcement is giant to these people.  That is what most would seek and respond to in prison and that is what will work once released to really bring them to a new lifestyle as they become productive citizens.

Then of course there are the falsely accused and wrongly convicted group.  More people than I ever imagined.  Even one person in this category is too many.  In fighting my own case, I hope to provide a way for others to follow.  The appeal system is very cumbersome and unfriendly and many just give up or never begin the process feeling defeated from the start, but does it have to be that way?  I will continue to write about how the false accusations and wrongful conviction came about in my own case thus increasing awareness.  Once exonerated I will publish a book with far more details than I have shared in this blog.  Even then, that is not enough, there is a need to get involved with those who are fighting this fight, helping in any way that I can.  Checks and balances must be brought to our justice system.  Without that, it will continue.  As I've said before, those that are a party to false arrests and convictions have to be made accountable.   Otherwise, there will be more families disrupted by this insanity.  There must be a movement for reform in our justice system to prevent this miscarriage of justice in the future. 

When I think in terms of  Reverence for Life, there can really be no other way.  It is our responsibility as human beings to stand up for the causes that relate to respect and betterment of fellow humans and for our living that in the treatment of autism or the healing of those incarcerated or the many other causes that effect each of our lives.  One has to ask, what touches my heart?  How can I help?  How can we improve the quality of our lives and others' right now?  When we leave this world, don't we want to leave it a better place for our kids and all those that follow?  I know I do!


  1. Great post, Audrey!!!

    You say it so well.

    Thank you.

  2. Such powerful words!
    I am humbled by your positive spirit and attitude. In the school where I substitute teach, they teach the children that "your attitude is your window to the world". SO true!

    When others look into your window, what do they see? I know when I look into your window, I see courage! I love and admire you!
    Thanks for showing us how to run this race!
    "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." ~Hebrews 12:1-3

  3. Hey Audrey, please consider making this Post available to the public at large in the form of Cassettes or CDs. These powerful words not only made our hair stand on end it made us feel like we have to (must) do more. We will buy extra copies for the Governor & the President as to start at the top and work our way down. It's our belief that this Post contains healing powers and deserves a headline.

    PS - also if you get time, please go to PNG Blogaboutit Forum and 'Start New a Discussion' (Copy & Paste this Post in and leave out last two or three paragraphs and end with ...*To read the rest of the story click on link. (put in link so readers will come to WUF). Thanks.