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  • Writer's pictureCalvin


I recently watched The Shawshank Redemption at my apartment. It came highly recommended by some of my friends, so I decided to give it a watch. And it was a solid movie. It talks about the difficulty in people adapting to a life out of prison, especially when they have been institutionalized in prison for decades upon decades.

Some people simply can’t adapt to a new lifestyle, especially as they approach old age. Everyone is human and has his or her breaking point. I also liked how the movie humanizes the prisoners and showcases them in a vulnerable light.

They are not bad people per say. They’ve just made some mistakes in the past and have been punished accordingly because of it. I think there is ability for anyone – even prisoners – to find redemption in their life. To have a second chance and to live a life of purpose and fulfillment.

Prison is not the ideal situation to learn this. But when there is a will, there is a way. And in the movie, Andy finds a way to give back and help out his fellow prisoners. He builds a library in prison to give the prisoners something to do and something to learn from.

He tries to teach a young person the capability to read and to take his high school entrance exam. He even helps the wardens and the guards with their tax returns. Yes, even though prison is not a great place to be, it does showcase that a man can find purpose anywhere. That if given the right tools and the right circumstance, he can find ways to have fulfillment in life.

It also shows the divergent path of two elderly prisoners, Brooks and Red, whom were released after decades upon decades in prison. One committed suicide. And the other managed to find some purpose in living a life after prison. It shows that there is a sense of responsibility to be had in finding well-being for oneself. And it shows that perspective is key to living a happy life. And that in general, there is always a way to strive and succeed.

The modern “free” world sometimes isn’t the easiest place to live in. And it can be quite brutal for those that are trying to adapt at a later age. I guess the older you get, the harder it is to change with the times. The harder it is to learn new skills. The harder it is to think from different perspectives. It’s important to have a good support system.

I do feel for those prisoners that had their freedoms taken away. Prison life is definitely not a great place to be. And I feel that everyone deserves another chance, regardless of the type of mistake that they’ve made.

Honestly, I used to believe in the death penalty when I was young (like in junior high and high school). I thought that murderers and people who commit heinous crimes should just be downright executed. That the law is the law. And that we should abide by them or else get punished to the fullest extent.

I don’t know why I thought that way. I guess I used to simply see things in black and white when I was younger. Like something was either right or wrong. You’re either a good person or a bad person. And if you break the law and commit something serious, you are simply an evil person that does not deserve to be a part of society. And I felt no guilt thinking that way.

I guess I could just never imagine myself ever being in jail. I’m more of a by-the-book type of person. I’ve been on the straight and narrow since I was young. And I always considered myself a good person.

But as I grew older throughout the years, my perspective has changed. I’ve come to realize that there are lots of grey areas in life. You are good in some cases. Bad in some cases. It really depends on the circumstance. There is no one definite resolution to anything. And there’s really no right or wrong answer neither.

And I start to realize that people are complicated. They do things for different reasons, and this concept of good and evil is simply a figment of our imagination. To some extent, everyone believes that they are a good person. Even the people we label as terrorists.

Maybe it’s not good to show so much compassion in all circumstances. But, these days, I don’t feel like the death penalty should be warranted in any case in our country. Everyone deserves another chance to make it right. To improve themselves and to find joy in whatever it is that they are seeking.

Life is a revolving door and a constant evolution. And everyone – even prisoners – should be given opportunities to reacclimate and adapt appropriately to society. It’s the support system that is important. And we should all find ways to help out our fellow humanity – no matter how flawed or how supposedly damaging their records may be.

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