There is an old saying defining insanity as “repeating the same behavior over and over again expecting a different result.”
For the formerly incarcerated, their “brush” with the criminal justice system is an opportunity to learn that truism. Repeating old patterns of unhealthy behaviors are not going to produce different outcomes. It is as true for us as it is for them.
Yet we as human beings very often don’t like change. It is discomforting, unsettling, and requires—well adjustments. We prefer our familiar customs, patterns and habits—even if they do not produce the desired effects.
OAR clients represent a willingness which many would find difficult. They recognize that an improved life for themselves is not going to come without change.
Change sounds easy, but it is hard work. Putting away former ways of thinking, former habits, former patterns of association and behavior requires effort.
I think our OAR clients are teaching us a valuable life lesson about change and the effort it requires.
With volunteers and staff to support their resolve, they determine that their past is not going to be the end of their story. They determine to stretch the limits of their own comfortable horizons to be different. And—catch this—they do this all the while many in society tell them you are a “bad” egg; you can’t change. To be determined to engage in the hard work of self-improvement in the face of employment barriers, social barriers, family needs, and the stigma of “felon” – now that is resilience.
Our clients not only embrace change and the hard work it requires, but also they pick themselves up time and time again when doors are closed to them and they say “that is not going to stop me.” Wow, what if we all had a good dose of that!