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Free your mind and the ‘rest’ will follow

Arthur Lee Hall, Jr. | 10/3/2013, 9 a.m.
With not one, but two enclosing barbwire gates, gun towers, guards armed with an assortment of heavy artillery, an array ...

With not one, but two enclosing barbwire gates, gun towers, guards armed with an assortment of heavy artillery, an array of handcuffs and shackles, concrete and steel buildings and a plethora of state of the art cameras positioned everywhere, it would be easy to assume that no maximum security prison such as the one that I have described is capable of being breached. While I do not have any plans of attempting to break out of prison, I do, however reserve the same right as all human beings to be able to indulge in the psychological exercise of escapism each day that I am held against my will. There is nothing prohibiting me from trotting the globe if I chose to from right here on my bunk, with help of a National Geographic magazine of course. I do realize that being totally absorbed in the thought of being free — escaping reality through the imagination — is nothing like the real thing. However, I find it extremely empowering to know that if I cannot stop a system from keeping my body confined, I can at least utilize my mind as as a means of jetting far away from here.

While incarcerated it is necessary for prisoners to comply with institutional rules in order to avoid being placed into confinement for disciplinary reasons. However, if society is expecting prisoners to function properly upon their release back into community, it is equally important to urge them to find wholesome ways of detaching mentally and spiritually from their immediate environment while there. Otherwise, releases could easily wind up like the man who spent most of his life behind bars, and then, once set free, went out and robbed a bank, guaranteeing his capture because he felt more comfortable in prison than out, and wanted to spend his final years there.

At times, I wonder if inhabitants of the ghetto are thinking to be free. Like prison, the ghetto is certainly not escape-proof. But one is able to undergo an exodus without ever having to leave. How? By simply transforming blood running rampant in our streets into love overflowing in our hearts and by changing the terrible habit of poisoning our minds with drugs and alcohol to pursuing higher learning and engaging in activities that will uplift the community as opposed to destroying it.