Enabling Reinvention

Opportunity Permission

by Robert Wood, Social Media Advisor – The Prison Scholar Fund

Opportunity permission is giving yourself permission to seek, explore, and capitalize on new opportunities with a success mindset. This is a very important thing. Many people allow themselves to fail or not even try at times because the people they feel are important to them are not buying in. In these instances you run the risk of missing out on many important difference-making opportunities by tying “permission” to seek, explore, and engage new opportunities to the thoughts and approval of others. No matter how close they are to you, you must be the driving force behind you own success, even if that means going it alone, and know that it definitely means making your own success related decisions. It’s one thing if someone is trying to talk you out of something illegal or unethical, and quite another when you refuse to move on an opportunity that’s interesting, appealing, and/or valuable to you just because certain people won’t buy in or put their full support behind you. In that case you are seeking unnecessary opportunity permission, especially since you have the final word on how you approach opportunity. At times you must go it alone with the vision you have created and make things happen through thorough research, meticulous planning, and invigorated pursuit of the opportunities important to you. In these instances it is important that you feel free to grant yourself the permission necessary to move forward at every viable point and pursue success in your venture(s) of choice.

How is that done?

The answer to this is very simple. It begins with opportunity preparation. As you think of the things you would like to do or achieve you must also analyze the preparation necessary to succeed in those endeavors. As you prepare you must take the time to expand your vision and search for opportunity in the places where you have the greatest chances of immediate success even as you elevate your related skill set. You must put the full strength of your will behind your quest for opportunity awareness and go one step further by engaging in well focused opportunity creation activities. This means actively seeking through volunteer work, and the opportunity for internships or just to help others in general, the chance to exercise the competencies you are developing as you develop them. It may even mean mocking execution to sharpen your tools for when the actions are live.  It also means involving yourself in activities you are passionate about so that the passion of your craft shines through as genuine and infectious which will lead others to offer or refer opportunities to you. In the long run however, as you prepare for opportunity it must be driven intrinsically (from within yourself) and your self motivation must be unshakeable in order to avoid the mistake of letting others dictate the opportunities you will seek, create, or engage in the pursuit of.

During the pursuit of opportunity do not begrudge your doubters or detractors. Allow their doubt and negativity serve only as fuel for your fervent motivation and burning desire to succeed. I don’t mean succeed to prove them wrong. I mean succeed to prove to yourself that your permission is the one and only permission necessary for opportunity pursuit and it is valid. Even in temporary failure (because failure is only temporary if you’re motivated and determined) if you learn and are not deterred from your goal(s) you will find this to be true. While capitalizing on new opportunities you must first earn from your actions, and then grant yourself, the right to succeed. Remember permission to succeed is not given by someone else. It is self granted by have a success mindset and taking constant and consistent actions conducive to success. When giving yourself permission to succeed your definitive actions will speak much louder than anyone’s words. The right to success is granted to you by you. Capitalize on important opportunities, do it passionately with a success mindset, and let’s win.

Wired To Win

by Robert Wood, Social Media Advisor – Prison Scholar Fund

Innately, human beings thrive to succeed at everything we do. Unlike animals, mere survival is not enough for us and competitiveness is a part of our psyche whether it’s collective or individual success which we’re pursuing. In collectivist societies, like China, everything is aimed at the good of society as a whole. In individualist societies, like the U.S., we compete more often on the individual level. However, in both cases human beings are wired to win. In some situations we must define winning more clearly so that we understand what a win actually entails. This is the subject I will discuss now. In order to be wired to win you need a definitive goal, knowledge of the things necessary to realize that goal, and the will to press on despite obstacles, setbacks, and rejections. You were born wired to win. If for some reason that wiring has been compromised don’t worry; you can re-wire yourself and start winning now.

In the process of re-wiring yourself to win you must first look at your most important goals, put them in the form of a mission statement, and clearly define them. A good example of this would be someone saying they want to become a dynamic business person. In that situation they must look at the goals attached to accomplishing this master goal and begin to quantify and create timelines for those accomplishments. A good example of that for a business person would be as follows: making your supporting goals things such as earning a Bachelor’s Degree in business administration, or an MBA within the next five years, and getting a job that allows you to learn more about business within the next six months or getting involved in network marketing within the next ninety days so you can learn about business hands on. Even in this example someone who is truly wired to win may aspire to all three goals because winning is an undertaking which takes effort, will, and dedication. Once you create your goals and begin to actively pursue them, you must do so with rigor and constantly engage in self-talk (where you discuss mentally or even verbally in the mirror with yourself what you are doing and why). This is a great opportunity for re-wiring the positive choices necessary to succeed. At this time positive affirmations should be plentiful and any mistakes should be evaluated and reconciled.

If for some reason you have been told that winning isn’t important please can that notion. Winning is very important and it’s important to allow yourself to define what winning is. Remember, you can win by trying if that is the way you define winning, but someone who is now wired to win will not allow them self to define anything less than a best effort to constitute a win. In the process of best efforts admittedly, you will have some failures and losses along the way, you must at some point define winning as actual victory and rigorously pursue it. In this case the strength of your will and your hunger for success will be two very important elements. Your goal must be pursued relentlessly and any impediments or setbacks must serve only as opportunities to learn and strengthen your will to win. Remember, you can win in increments. That is to say you can win by successfully accomplishing incremental goals which are tied to your master goal(s). This is how you start winning right now. The totality of your incremental goals should have the aggregate effect of accomplishing your master goal and that will be the big win you have now re-wired yourself for. You were born to win. That is a part of the human DNA. Please re-wire yourself and let’s win. After all, you are innately wired to win.

The Answer to the Recidivism Problem

By Robert Wood, Social Media Advisor – Prison Scholar Fund

Recidivism is the act of returning to incarceration for the perpetuation of criminal acts. Those acts are usually done in pursuit of monetary gain or due to an abundance of time and negative energy which in many instances leads to negative thoughts and actions that cross into the realm of criminal activity.

Is there way to avoid recidivism?

The short simple answer is no. However, as is the case with cancer or other treatable illnesses this is a societal ill which can be effectively controlled with the proper treatment. The correct prescription in this case is education, opportunity, and the motivation of becoming a viable and contributory part of a society which believes you can change and offers you the chance to do so. Only by embracing the chance to educate America’s incarcerated population and put them in a situation to gain job and/or career skills which lead to the opportunity to participate fully in society  can America expect to see the recidivism rates decrease on a national basis.

Education is the first test. The fact that they gravitate towards it tells you those individuals want to learn and are willing to make the effort to do so. As a society we have a prima facie moral obligation to constantly upgrade humankind and that includes the incarcerated population. Recidivism reduction is crime reduction. Recidivism reduction is broken family reduction. Recidivism reduction is poverty reduction. Recidivism reduction is the reduction of multiple societal ills all at once and it’s a great goal which includes honoring many other great goals at the same time.

At this point in time America has an opportunity to decrease these overbearing societal ills through the education and training of America’s incarcerated population. As legislation is debated to address these urgent issues it is imperative that we not let the inaction represented by debate in lieu of action become our own inaction. Please assist in the reduction of recidivism through involvement, via funding or volunteer services, to educate America’s incarcerated population. To get involved and find out what you can do to help visit us at prisonscholars.org.

Thank You.

Community, Criminal Justice, and Corrections Education

By: Johnathan Bolden

It is common for incarcerated individuals to view corrections education with suspicion, or even to remain hostile to its positive influences. For some of us, school has been a source of negativity, where detentions and suspensions replaced common sense and counseling, and law enforcement became an ever increasing presence on campus. Overcrowded classrooms and overworked teachers only exacerbated a situation stressed for relief and resources. Given such circumstances, one doesn’t need to stretch reason to understand why some who find themselves behind bars are reluctant to embrace education as a pathway to positive change.

This sentiment underscores the “school to prison pipeline” thesis that informs many criminological studies of today. Policies and practices that criminalize and overpolice schoolchildren, who in many cases come from disadvantaged households and communities, only leads to these same children filling our prisons as young adults. These policies and practices drive a reinforcing cycle in which part of the solution (education) to the problem (crime, recidivism, social ills, etc.) is viewed as a problem by those with criminal inclinations, by those who need education the most.

Not surprisingly, calling on the criminal justice system to address issues traditionally handled by family and teachers has had disastrous consequences for our communities.

But every challenge presents within it the opportunity to overcome it. And in terms of reducing recidivism and improving community safety (and morale), corrections education has been shown to meet that challenge.

As an incarcerated individual, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of education, particularly postsecondary education, within the corrections environment. Corrections education bridges that gulf between the mainstream and the margins of our society. It decreases the alienation and distrust that the incarcerated hold towards society’s authority and institutions by introducing them to the world of ideas and possibilities. There is no other substitute for the positive indoctrination in the socially-accepted beliefs and values of our society that education fosters.

Personally, attaining my AA degree was a bittersweet experience. Up until that point in my life, I was a failure by the most forgiving of standards, and it took me coming to prison to accomplish something meaningful. It wasn’t that postsecondary education deposited within me historical facts, developed my math skills, and (poof!) I was then changed for the better. No, it was a difficult process of self-discovery that ultimately made me feel connected to society as I understood my place and purpose in it.

To this point, personal accountability and personal responsibility are values that can only be instilled through either demonstration or education. And while myself and others, who have made similar changes, model the benefits of corrections education through mentorship, the reality is the corrections environment is a breeding ground of criminality. We need strong, well-adapted corrections education programs to empower, encourage, and inspire incarcerated individuals to become more than the sum of their bad choices, more than the product of their troubled circumstances.

As a society, when we discuss community safety and criminal justice, it is a discussion of our morals and values. Thus, our corrections institutions should correct and our criminal justice system should produce justice. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a profound thinker and writer of Russian literature, believed that the “degree of civilization within a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” I would hope that here in the United States we could do better and see the promise of our ideals reflected in those individuals who leave prison.

Note from the author: This post isn’t meant to discredit or malign Washington State’s educational system or its criminal justice system. Social dynamics are complex, and therefore require an equally sophisticated approach to understanding them. Part of this approach involves honest and open discussions about the issues that concern us all.

Preparation for Success

By Robert Wood, Social Media Advisor – Prison Scholar Fund

The essence of a viable plan for success upon reentering society is the clear articulation of your strategic intent not only within your mind, but in writing as well, an understanding of what needs to be done to realize the execution of your plan, and the will to execute that plan to completion regardless of the obstacles and distractions that you most certainly will face with the passing of time. The earlier within the available timeframe that you make these decisions, the more time you have to gain the knowledge and capabilities necessary for superior execution of your success strategy. An increase in, or introduction to, knowledge related to your strategic intent is a must. The three things I would like to briefly address regarding the execution of your strategic plan for success are knowledge, execution, and strength of will.

Knowledge will definitely be a factor in any endeavor you choose to undertake, and it is imperative to your success that you obtain the appropriate knowledge to accomplish the things necessary to fulfill your goals. The best place to begin looking is at school programs, whether they are G.E.D., high school equivalency, or college programs. The quicker you get started with your course of study the quicker you can incorporate it into your overall program and begin gaining the knowledge to succeed in your endeavors. Regardless of where you begin, please keep in mind that it’s not how you start but how you finish and that through planning, executing, and adapting as needed you will surprise many people. You may even be one of those surprised by your own accomplishments. It is also an excellent idea to read books and magazines related to your planned endeavors to get deeper knowledge and stay abreast of the cutting edges of technology in the areas of your interest. Cutting edge knowledge is always an advantage.

Once you begin learning the things you need to know to succeed, you will need to execute them as often as possible. In the event you can’t do this in real time please review mentally as often as possible and mock execution of your endeavor and related competencies in as close to real fashion as possible. This will keep you involved in your craft and give you a definitive edge when the execution is real. Also be sure to constantly scan the world, via news and/or newspapers and magazines for changes in technology or regulations related to your craft. As a job seeker or a business person, familiarity with the latest breakthroughs will be an excellent competitive competency and it’s one you should have if at all possible. Even if only through mock execution, familiarity with the newest technology puts you at a very formidable advantage.

What may be the most important element involved in creating and executing a viable success strategy is building a competitive competency called will, which allows you to go further, endure tougher situations, and accomplish more even under very stringent conditions. You must stick to your plan once you undertake it, amend it if conditions require, but never quit. Make up your mind that failure is not an option and the pursuit of your goals will be relentless and only interrupted when it is absolutely critical to do so and then re-engaged immediately upon resolving the critical situation. This is what it takes to create and execute a winning strategy for success, and it is also what it takes to succeed.

Motivation and Purpose

by Robert Wood, Social Media Advisor – Prison Scholar Fund

Motivation is often illusive. In many instances there are reasons that people allow themselves to be discouraged, disappointed, or otherwise distracted from their primary goals. In these instances the motivation to stay focused, keep your eye on the ball, and press on is not strong enough to sustain you in the face of distractions. We must find things that motivates us which are within our own control. We must also keep the reasons for our motivations tied to our well defined purpose(s) and the goals which must be met to accomplish them if we are to succeed and utilize motivation as a competitive driving force in our lives.

In my own life I understand both the need for motivation and the disastrous effects a lack of it can have. Besides purpose, there is nothing more motivating than a winning persona empowered by a winning attitude. This can be cultivated through incremental wins in the learning and goal achievement processes. As you gain and understand new and challenging knowledge and begin to meet incremental goal targets, you begin to understand very clearly that you are a winner with many capabilities and abilities which can be defined as the traits of a winner. Logic tells you these winning traits are found in winners and in the process of developing winning traits you’re developing yourself into a winner. That is a great way to stay motivated to succeed.

In my own life I was at one time sentenced to 25 years and decided to change my life. This was a situation which would require great focus and the constant renewal of self motivation as years and then over decade of incarceration attempted to break my will. I actually watched it break the wills of many other individuals. Having a great purpose – changing my life and helping others – and knowing that I’m a winner allowed me to push on persevere, and continue to strive to better myself. Everyday as I watch the news I see people endure war, grave injury, massive deaths of the people closest to them, and natural disaster. At these times I remind myself how lucky I am and my self motivation and sense of purpose are renewed. For different people there will be different motivational factors and for winners, or winners in training, there will be self motivational factors which you can look to introspectively that will renew the passionate pursuit of your goals, and thus, ultimately of your purpose. Real purpose creates real motivation.

Find your purpose, pursue it passionately, stay motivated, and win.

Ongoing Success By Design

by Robert Wood, Social Media Advisor – Prison Scholar Fund

As opportunities arise due to constantly evolving cultures and rapidly advancing technology, prior knowledge and preparation allow you to rapidly adapt to those changes and position you to capitalize on the opportunities as others struggle to catch up. As a result of ongoing education and intellectual curiosity, you become part of an elite group of people who seem to always be on the cutting edge of their industry and/or passion. This type of forward thinking  must be constantly refreshed with new knowledge in the same manner a tree must be continuously watered to thrive. The knowledge obtained and applied properly will become a source of constant impetus for the strength of your will and an ongoing re-dedication to your particular craft or passion.

Look around the world at all the companies, nations, and industries. It is quickly very apparent that those who are constantly in the winners circle are perpetually pursuing new knowledge, upgrading skills, and re-inventing themselves as deemed necessary by events and circumstances. This is no coincidence. The greatest competitors realize that knowledge properly applied and constantly upgraded creates a consistent and constantly renewed competitive advantage. This done by design and you are privy to that design at this very moment. Please, pay close attention.

Obtain and apply at every opportunity the knowledge of your craft or passion. Never stop learning in this regard. Seek qualified knowledge from a variety of sources including, courses, books, professional or craft groups, seminars, and the many other sources of information available in the area you wish to advance in. Have integrity and honor in all matters of education and all other pursuits. Allow that to extend to your life as a whole. Be dedicated not only to the pursuit, but also to the constant use of new knowledge in the execution of your will. Exercise will and discipline in all matters of great importance. Be introspective by constantly having mental conversations with yourself that constantly push you to succeed and excel. Continue to evolve as a person and in all possible areas of life taking a holistic approach that will enhance you in all important matters both personal and professional. Be empowered by helping and empowering others. Finally, always take the time raise the spirits of others with a smile and enjoy a good laugh from time to time.

Limitless Potential

by

Robert Wood, Social Media Advisor – Prison Scholar Fund

The capacity of the human mind is far beyond humankind’s current comprehension. Knowledge has no limits. To put this more bluntly: as a person with the fantastic tool known as the human mind, if you are of average intelligence and have the will and perseverance to go after the things you want and deserve with passion and vigor, you can certainly obtain them. Although you may not believe this, that is because our own capabilities, as previously stated, are often beyond our current comprehension. We have been blessed with a system for thought and action more advanced than any supercomputer ever created and nearly as complex as the universe in which we exist. With this startling knowledge in mind you must reach for your goals, not with your human hand, but with your limitless mind.

It has been proven over and over again that what humankind envisions vividly enough, puts knowledge, resources, action, and strength of will behind, we can and have accomplished. Today’s technology gives us access to a flow of information previously believed to be impossible using things like electricity and digital and three dimensional imagery, which were also at one point in time considered impossibilities. With the constant redefining of what’s possible, what’s normal, and a future in which the human mind promises to continue advancing, there should be no doubt that your potential is without limits.

In light of the limitless potential possessed within you by simply obtaining the proper knowledge, gaining the proper motivation, and exerting the necessary strength of will you can succeed in any worthy endeavor you choose. Please understand that although humankind is blessed with limitless potential it is only the very few who have the strength of will and the drive to go out and utilize  that potential in ways that make a difference for humanity as whole. As a reward these people become immortalized in the history of humanity as driving forces for the progress of humankind. With just a fraction of your limitless potential you can make a difference in your family, your community, and within yourself. I’m not asking you to change the world, just to understand your limitless potential and change the way you look at the world. In the process if you do change the world, the world will be better off because of your limitless potential.

Remember: seek knowledge, apply knowledge, and understand that there are no limits to what you are capable of accomplishing.

Changing Worldviews, Changes Lives

by

Robert L. Wood, Social Media Advisor – Prison Scholar Fund

Prior to my current period of incarceration I didn’t pay much attention to the news and when I watched it my opinions were often negative and filled with resentment of what I saw as roadblocks to success. I saw opportunities that were available, but not to me. Since I began pursuing my education I see things much differently. I have begun to look for the good in every situation and usually find it. I see opportunities where others only see hardships. You may what changed and I would have to say it was my worldview which has been changed through education, constant application, and ongoing upgrades of knowledge relevant to my interests and responsibilities. I am so glad that Dirk Van Velzen, the Founder and Executive Director for the Prison Scholar Fund understood this dynamic when he founded this organization with the powerful mission of changing communities one person at a time by extending the helping hand of education to one of society’s most underserved demographics – America’s incarcerated population.

As I read the last issue of the Prison Scholar Fund’s (PSF’s) newsletter there were two excellent articles by outstanding young ladies who are also prison scholars, Jenny Iredale and Tanya Wilson, and it was immediately apparent to me that they too have new leases on life due to recently changed worldviews. They are currently in the process of changing not only their own lives, but the lives of the people around them, and touching many others’ lives that they will come into contact with in the future. It is this very dynamic that enables the PSF to improve communities by changing one life at a time and allowing those new worldviews to positively affect communities. You can click on past issues to see the very powerful stories of both of the young women I’m referring to.

The more an individual knows the clearer they see and understand the opportunities available to them. When people have the knowledge and inspiration to succeed it is life changing. Please donate increments of ten, twenty, or fifty dollars monthly to assist in this game changing movement to educate America’s incarcerated population. We would like to hear from you too. Feel free to write to us and share your stories and insights. If you have questions feel free to ask them. We are listening and value your feedback. Let’s do this!

Less Bickering, More Solutions

by Robert Wood, Social Media Advisor – Prison Scholar Fund

In this era of tense race relations and political polarization education and a will to understand each other makes it possible to find common ground. On September 26, 2016 as I watched two very polarizing politicians debate, Hillary Clinton – the democratic nominee for president and Donald Trump – the republican nominee, I was amazed that they both concurred that the shooting death of an unarmed Black man in Oklahoma by a police officer was deeply troubling. It was a recent event which had occurred in the last few days prior to the debate and I was glad to hear both candidates address the significance of the issue involving police brutality in our great nation. The problem is more prevalent in Black and inner city communities and is often dismissed when people who don’t want to talk about it or minimize it  by pivoting to the Black on Black violence which constantly takes place in America’s inner cities (at the current time especially Chicago) and other urban areas where it’s induced by a powerful cocktail of drugs, criminal activity, and poverty. Within 24 hours of the presidential debate where the latest issue of police brutality was addressed by both candidates CNN reported that a Black man was killed by police in San Diego, California – my hometown.

That report brought the issue of police brutality directly to the forefront of my mind. Since I have family members who like myself are Black men I immediately cringed when I heard the CNN tease for the story. When they showed the picture of the deceased I did not recognize him and although I felt sympathy for his demise breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn’t a friend, associate, or family member. As the story was reported I observed something that stood out to me: the national media (at least CNN) did not attempt to criminalize or demonize the deceased. They did mention that his sister had called them due to him walking around disoriented and immediately released a still photo of what may have played a key role in the officer’s decision to use lethal force. It was not a clear case of a justified shooting or an unjustified shooting on the part of the police officer. When they spoke of the guy’s (Alfred Olongo) disorientation and the call which preceded the incident letting law enforcement know Olongo may have been endangering himself you would think the police department would send a specialist and not a regular police officer to deal with the issue. While one of the officers involved chose to use a taser, the other opted for the lethal option due to what he erroneously perceived as a lethal threat that turned out to be a vaping device. In this instance there were immediate protests due to the constant killing of Black men in this country by the police when situations don’t necessarily justify it or are extremely questionable. Some police officers and politicians always say it’s justified and that’s simply not true, especially in situations where un-armed individuals are killed like the Black man recently killed in Oklahoma. Donald Trump, a self described law and order presidential candidate said that instance was deeply troubling to him and if a person doesn’t have the temperament to a be a police officer maybe they should consider a different career alternative. Hillary Clinton said she’s deeply disturbed by the trend of violence against Black men by police officers in this country when it’s unjustified and the offenders face no repercussions.

Indeed there is a Black on Black on violence epidemic in this country which police and politicians point to as if that justifies the problem of police brutality. In reality police are held to a much higher standard and righteously so. They have voluntarily accepted the duty to protect and serve the rights of all people in the United States of America regardless, race, religion, or any other issue which could cause bias. That includes people in high crime communities where their services are often needed the most, and unfortunately where they are feared the most. Rather than politicians and law enforcement dancing around these issues perpetuated by a very small percentage of reckless officers they should make it a point t research viable long term solutions.

Why is this issue so important to me now?

I’ve previously had a friend we called Bootsy who lost his life to a questionable police shooting around 1987 in San Diego, California. Whether or not it was justified I don’t know. More recently once they showed Alfred Olongo up close on CNN news I realized that was a good friend of mine we called Snake. It’s very sad and unnerving to me which is what drove me to write this article. When Snake and I met we were incarcerated together at the Federal Correctional Institution in Lompoc, California. We became friends very quickly because we knew many of the same people in San Diego. He told me that him and his brother had been abducted when he was nine years old and forced to become child soldiers in Africa, which is where he came to America from. He was a flawed man like myself and we did some time together, however, he was a good friend, a caring person, and he valued human life very deeply. He had a great sense of humor and often made me laugh. During the time we spent together one of the things we had in common is that we were both trying to turn our lives around. Sadly he lost his life to an unfortunate, but all too familiar situation.

It was very ironic to me that after living through the horror of being a child soldier and getting asylum in the world’s greatest nation, he carved out  a life in America’s finest city and was killed by one of the very people tasked with protecting him and all other people in the United States of America. I won’t attempt to determine whether or not the killing of my friend was justified. He was my friend and I’ll miss him either way. I will say that this political and racial polarization in our country over asking for justice in these instances is must stop. Before I go any further let me note that justice doesn’t always mean one side or the other is right. It means justice in each and every situation as we strive to eliminate this grave problem. As I watch the news I see people upset about others exercising the constitutional right to protest these shootings. That’s ridiculous. This is the United States of America. We have ten amendments to our constitution called the bill of rights which include freedom of speech and the right to assemble to address grievances. We also have a real problem with police brutality where Black men are concerned in this nation. That problem is constantly disclosed through the increasing prevalence of cameras and transparency within in our society and it must be dealt with.

I hope in the near future rather than dancing around and simply debating the issue we will apply our knowledge of best practices, hiring practices, and community policing practices along with human psychology to the situation and find solutions to this critical and divisive issue in the United States. With all that we face as a nation in the way of global opposition to our way of life, our security, and our very existence as a nation we can ill afford to let critical issues like this continue to divide us. Through knowledge, strong collective will, and definitive action we can easily deal with these issues instead of allowing them to continue to divide us and make us ripe for our conquest or demise. I urge every American to think of the bigger picture and understand why internal conflict while we deal with serious 21st century threats, such as terror, nuclear arms in rogue nations, and a renewed cold war with Russia, is counterproductive to our health as a nation. We are the United States for a reason. We are the sum of every race and culture on Earth working together to thrive. Although flawed, we are the greatest nation in the history of humankind and must work hard to keep it that way. Our biggest strategic asset is our diversity. Through education and interaction on both sides of this critical issue we can gain an understanding and through that understanding we will gain the will, resolve, and solutions to this serious problem and any others we may face. God bless America – All of America.

Robert Wood is the social media advisor for the Prison Scholar Fund. He can be reached at rlw@psf.azurewebsites.net. His writing can be found on PrisonScholars.org. He also Tweets for the Prison Scholar Fund using the hashtag #RLW_PSF

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