The Blossoms of Humanity Emerge from the Seeds of Consciousness
by Efren Paredes, Jr.
(I delivered the following message at the January 15, 2015 Power of Peace Project graduation ceremony held at the Muskegon Correctional Facility (MCF).)
It takes courage to do and stand for the right things in life. This is especially true in the prison setting. For this every participant in this program is deserving of accolades. They took the time to do something meaningful with their lives when they could have elected to sit in the day-room and play cards or lay in their beds and watch TV.
The men who participated in this program did so even though it may not have been a popular thing to do among the people they live around or associate with. They understand what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. meant when he said, "There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politics, nor popular, but one must take it because it's right."
They were willing to make personal sacrifices and take risks to challenge their thinking and do better. And, they took this chance understanding the adage, "What is to give light must endure burning." (Victor Frankl)
Much of what we read and discussed during this 40-day program weren't things we didn't already know. What the program did was help us align each principle and value into a constellation that formed a clearer image of what peace means and can do for our community. It is a package of carefully woven together ideas that can serve as a blueprint to foster peace and empower the lives of others.
It is now our responsibility to carry the torch we have been handed. We have to do our part to make this program attractive to others and encourage their participation.
"A genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus but a molder of consensus." (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), meaning that we have to share this message with those who don't already agree with its philosophy to change our environment one person at a time. We won't produce meaningful change by "speaking to the choir." It will occur by doing the work necessary to convert people to a new way of thinking.