We continue our weekly chats and it becomes increasingly clear that the Road Back isn’t necessarily paved with gold or downhill.
On the contrary.
Drugs, alcohol, friends, society: they all condemn or, at the very least, frown of the individual who has the guts to stand up and accept responsibility for the past. After all: once a criminal, always a criminal…?
My new friend has an easy way out: somewhere, somehow, in jail, they mixed up his ID documents. He now has two ID’s: the real one (lost) and a new one (which isn’t really him – at least not as far as numbers and dates go).
Six years ago he applied for a loan at one of the larger commercial banks, got the cash, and ended up squandering the money. He paid back a number of installments before defaulting. Then, because the loan was granted to an ID he doesn’t own, he simply ignored the progressively demanding letters. After all, society took away his ID: they owed him…didn’t they? And wasn’t he entitled to something after all the hardships of the past? In the end he simply tore the letters up without opening him.
We chatted about this.
Today he went back to the bank (alone) and owned up to his actions.
And at the bank – the astute, money-making, no-exceptions, repossessing, cold-hearted bank – he found somebody who listened to him and made him feel like a human being again. Mr Havenga (you know who you are), I salute you. Thank you for being kind. Thank you for meeting my friend and allowing him the opportunity to correct a silly mistake. And thank you for being another rung in the ladder that’ll allow him climb to his full potential.
The lesson I’ve learnt from this?
Don’t label people. Listen. Try to understand. It may be a long and winding road, and the journey may be harsh and trying. But…if society refuses somebody the opportunity to retrace his or her steps back to honesty and integrity, the accusing finger points the other way. Don’t just look at the record – look at the heart. It cuts both ways.
I’m proud of my friend. His past may be troubled and his future may still be threatened with prejudice, but his determination will get him there.
I know. Many readers will say this is an exception and remain convinced that some members of society are beyond saving. And I know how much guts and determination it takes for an individual to make a U-turn in Life to pursue a seemingly impossible dream. But heck – if a man is man enough to try; really, honestly and sincerely try; he’s got my vote.
How does this fit in with the daily prompt of Perspective? Easy. I don’t like crime. But if a lifetime of wrong turns end up being a U-turn back towards self-respect, I call it a miracle of grace.
Well done, Friend. You’re an inspiration.