Every once in a while, I need a reality check in this business of working with prisoners.
Today I am reminded, again, that there is a reason for prisons, and there are reasons why some people belong there.
When my nephew showed interest in hiring a former prisoner in his company, I hesitantly encouraged him to go ahead. At first, it appeared the business decision was a good one. Sales were up. Things were looking good. Then came the bad news: A telephone caller asked for a personal meeting, and it turns out the former inmate's dark past is also part of his present life. Things are not good, he's been behaving inappropriately, and there's every reason to believe he's going to go right back where he came from.
That makes me so sad. The man had a chance to do things right.
It reminds me of our efforts to help Ronny some years ago. We got him out, got him a place to live, got him going in a business of his own. He would be at my side to speak in churches...we would hug, and he would get teary-eyed. But all the while, he was still involved in the dark side of his life, stealing from the very people who were helping him. It all caught up to him finally, and he took his own life. Heart-breaking, because he had such a huge chance to start a new life.
And one more example...a good friend of ours, a senior citizen who has been so supportive of former prisoners, apparently was taken to the cleaners by one who thought he had found a blank check-book.
Now it's important for me to stress that these are the exceptions. Each day I work with wonderful people behind bars whom I completely trust, and with whom I would work in a heart-beat. And these few rotten apples spoil it for the whole bunch. We must keep our focus, instead, on the shiny, red, sweet apples out there.
The real message here is that we all know some unsavory people, regardless of whether they have ever been in prison. But that doesn't mean that we are not surrounded by many, many, honest, kind, genuine human beings worthy of our love and friendship.