Changing the world may seem like an insurmountable task, but changing our world is less intimidating. As individuals we are powerfully influential in our environment. Our words and actions can be divided up into two overseeing categories: negative or positive.

Here’s the truth, every one of us has said or done negative things, fact. But we do not have to continue to do those things, we can stop and improve our world immediately, also fact. Every time we choose to not do or say something negative we save someone else from being hurt by our actions. Maybe it was a simple insult, maybe it was their very life, dignity, or sense of self.

We all have the option to contribute positively or negatively. I am in prison where there are murderers, rapists, thieves, drug addicts, prostitutes, drug traffickers, and more (of which, I am at least one). The prison where I am at is unique, it is a protective custody facility where the majority of the housed people are here because they made a conscious decision to be a different person.

They all talk about what it is going to be like to be apart of a cohesive community that has support, even better than here. I must beg the question, does that outside community exist? They dream of wearing a suit, paying taxes, grocery shopping with their children and friends, having backyard bar-b-ques and paying their mortgages. The idea of ever hurting another person, even by insult, is of complete disgust to many of us here.

It is easy to get caught up in the past, nobody dislikes my past more than me, or even hate it. I am not going to embrace those actions as my identity anymore though. I can change and move on, which I have done, because I do not have to be that person.

Now I can go into our communities, which are in desperate need of patience and love, and help change our world. We all can. When someone is struggling, help. When you are struggling, ask for help. Let’s start there.

I challenge everyone with two things:

1) Make a conscious effort to not perpetuate negative actions or words. Refuse to say or do something that might hurt someone else either emotionally, physically or otherwise. Instead, say or do something that might actually help them. Which leads me to challenge #2

2) Be a help. Help change something, no matter how “small” (nothing is small!). Every time we ignore someone else’s struggle we disgrace our humanity. The person who is angrily beating someone down on social media is in desperate need of our humanity, not our anger or disapproval. The guy with his hands buried in his face sitting in the grocery store parking lot is in desperate need of our humanity, our few minutes of “hey, are you okay? How can I help?”

Seems like stuff that’s ridiculous? It is so important! We often don’t need people to solve our problems, most often we just need to be heard. While we go through our struggle it is nice to look at the trenches we are in and see that others are fighting right alongside of us, it lets us know we are normal, like everyone else.

Hey, when I say “With Love” I mean that. I have hated for far too long and I refuse to hate anymore, nobody is going to evoke that in me again. Nobody deserves to be hated, nobody, not for any reason at any time. So I refuse. I made that choice because I know what it feels like to be hated. Do you?

Together, we can change the world, if you are not up for it just yet, that’s okay…I’m gonna love you anyway and there is not anything you are gonna do to stop that, that’s MY choice. )

Thanks for listening.

With Love
Jeff Jeffebelle Utnage