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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Liberating Yourself from a Dark Past

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By Rosendo Rodríguez III

Lately, one cannot turn on a radio, a TV, a smartphone or pick up a magazine or a newspaper, and not hear something about, or see, the exodus of refugees who are streaming into Germany. At first glance, one might simply dismiss the crisis as par for the course when it comes to the world socio-political scene or merely something that would serve as filler for the various news outlets.

But when I actually sat down, poured a cup of coffee and mulled the situation over, I asked myself a question: If an entire nation like Germany can be move d to liberate itself from its dark past, can we all not do the same at the individual level?

When we look at the nation of Germany, there are a number of factors we have to consider in regards to its size and population.

First, Germany has a land area of 137,828 square miles (356,974 square kilometers) and has approximately 90 million people living within its borders. From an American viewpoint, it isn´t a very large nation. To put it in perspective, you could fit the square mileage of Germany within the state of Texas (my home-state) almost 2 ½ times. Germany´s population, meanwhile, is equal to the entire American southwest, from Texas to California.

Now, bearing these statistics in mind, I ask that you further consider the following: Germany will absorb 800,000 refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, and will do so by giving them language classes, housing, food and a monthly stipend of 390 euros ($390.00). This is done not only willingly, but with a hearty “Willkommen!” (Welcome!) by cheering crowds of Germans who warmly receive bus and trainloads of weary refugees.

So then, why, you may ask, would Germany spend so much of its money and resources on complete strangers? Strangers, mind you, who are about religiously, culturally, and ethnically apart as they could possibly be from your typical German?

The answer becomes clear when you realize that, at their height during the second world war, the various Nazi concentration camps at such places like Auschwitz, Dachau, Treblinka, just to name a few, were executing and then incinerating 20,000 people a day during the Holocaust.

The current generation of young Germans have been taught to bear the shame of their grandfathers and to not respect the mistakes of the past. By donating clothes, home-made food (so much that German officials kindly turned people away after being inundated), by offering refugees shelter in homes, apartments and office buildings and giving them jobs; by handling balloons and teddy bears to exhausted Syrian children at train stations, Germany made the choice to liberate itself from its dark past. What makes it all the more amazing is that within one generation, 70 years, from 1945 to 2015, they are accomplishing it.

When we reflect upon this act of atonement writ large, we should ask ourselves how we can, on an individual level, either in the outside world or behind bars, liberate ourselves from our own dark histories.

Well, if you are out in the free world and are reading these words on this website, then you are on the right track. You´ve taken the time and effort to peruse this site and listen to the voices contained herein, so take the next step and correspond with someone who is incarcerated. Becoming involved in the life of one of us behind bars can have the benefit of not only enlightening our lives as well as yours, but also of cleansing yourself of past misdeeds that weighs heavily upon you. (Speaking as a man who has served in the Marine Corps and attended college for five years at Texas Tech, I have learned a hell of a lot more from my neighbors here on death row than I ever did in the military or on a university campus). One does not need to be religious to absolve themselves of their sins or past mistakes, by simply reaching out to those of us inside these walls would be enough to suffice.

If you are behind bars and wish to liberate yourself from your own dark past, then just take a look around and use the resources at hand. Learn a new language or skill and assist those around you who are unable to help themselves. You have a unit library and by extension, an entire world of knowledge within reach; check out a legal dictionary and a copy of your states´ code of criminal procedure and begin teaching yourself, then later teach others, the law. If you can paint, fashion crafts, draw, tailor clothes, or perform any other beneficial skill in prison, then put forth those efforts to helping the people around you.

I know that not everyone in prison is guilty of the crime of which they are accused, but everyone has things in their past for which they can atone.

In closing, there is a thought that I would like to leave you with: A German public broadcaster, ARD, released a poll on September 3rd, 2015, that stated that 88% of Germans would donate clothing and/or money to refugees, or have already done so, while 67% of those surveyed said that they would also perform volunteer work for these refugees who are in the most dire of circumstances. After being questioned why they would do so, all of the respondents replied that these acts would be an atonement for the darkest chapters of their nation´s dark history. It is my earnest hope that those of you who read these words will be motivated to do the same.

Rosendo Rodriguez 999534
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77351

Greetings, my name is Rosendo Rodrigues and I grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas. At 18, I studied political science and history at Texas Tech University and I served in the marine corps as an imperial storm trooper for the US Government.  I speak English and German.  I enjoy reading science fiction and playing Dungeons and Dragons and love finding hilarity wherever it may ensue.  I currently reside in a gated community on Death Row in Texas.  Schreib mir auf deutsch, oder, write mein English.


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3 comments:

Phil Hipp said...

Hi Rodrigo, Deine Worte haben mich sehr bewegt. Ich komme aus Berlin und habe kürzlich Kontakt zu einem Todestrakt Häftling im LSP aufgenommen. Seitdem hat sich viel in meinem Leben getan und es ist erstaunlich, wie viel ich von Euch die ihr durch die Hölle geht lernen kann. Sehr gerne würde ich auch mit Dir zun Kontakt treten. Du kannst mir gerne via philipp.heinau@googlemail.com antworten.
Liebe Grüße
Phil

Carmen Koenig said...

Hallo Rodrigo,
Ich schreibe Dir aus Deutschland und kann Deine Zeilen sehr gut nachvollziehen. Danke für diesen Denkanstoß- ich habe selbst einen Lifer, welcher gerade in SHU ist als Brieffreund und hoffe, ich kann seine Situation ein klitzekleines bisschen erträglicher machen.
Liebe Grüße
Carmen

A Friend said...

The following comment is from Rosendo Rodriguez III:

Liebe Carmen,

Vielen Dank fur deinen Kommenter zu meinem Artikel “Liberating Yourself From A Dark Past,” der hier gestern angekommen ist. Die Website www.minutesbeforesix.com ist eine wunderbare Plattform fur Leute, die gefangen sind, und ich hoffe, dass dein Brieffreund teilgenommen hat. Es tut mir sehr leid, dass er einen Lifer ist, aber ich bin froh zu horen, dass er hat eine Freundin wie du…glaubst du mir, Freundschaft bedeutet uns im Gefangnis viel.

Jedensfallsn horre ich es gent dir deinem Freund (soweit es die Umstande halt zulassen) gut. Ich habe mich gefreut, von dir zu horen, und schreib mal wieder, wenn du willst.

Liebe Grusse,

Rosendo Rodriguez III

Mein Adresse:
Rosendo Rodriguez III 999534
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77351
U.S.A.