May 19, 2020, 11:46 am
I remember when I was growing up how my dad always used to root for the underdog. He wasn’t a big sports guy, so whenever two teams were playing (football, baseball, etc.), and he didn’t have a preference, he always rooted for the team that was not expected to win. Maybe that’s why I tend to root for the underdog even now, even though I’ve lost every Super Bowl bet I’ve ever made–every single one.
People love underdog stories. They also love comeback stories. Not the kind of come-back-to-prison story, but the kind where someone falls on their face, gets up again, and finds redemption. You’ve probably rooted for some comeback stories yourself. Chuck Colson went to prison in shame over the Watergate scandal, but he came out of prison to establish the nation’s largest prison ministry, Prison Fellowship. The My Pillow guy was a strung out drug addict, but now he’s clean and owns a thriving business. President Bill Clinton even had a comeback story. After he finally took responsibility in the Monica Lewinski scandal, he regained popularity and is today beloved by many.
One of the first criminal comeback stories I remember is Nicky Cruz’s. He was a former violent gang member in the 1980s who went to prison, found God, and turned his life around. His story is told in the book, The Cross and the Switchblade. It’s a remarkable story of redemption for someone who committed some very violent crimes. One of my uncles even went to prison in the early ’80s and is today a very successful business owner. I can’t help but admire the tenacity it takes to face insurmountable odds, and to come out with an inspiring story in the end.
But not everyone loves a comeback story. In fact, some people believe it’s impossible to come back from especially bad choices. Some even believe the only remedy to these choices is that the offender disappear and never return. That’s why we have the death penalty, mandatory minimum sentences, and gradually increasing average prison sentences, despite scientific evidence that proves long sentences do not make communities safer or lead to increased rehabilitation.
There’s a certain comfort, I suppose, in being able to ignore a problem that’s not in front of you. That’s why sending offenders to prison for a long time makes some people feel better. It’s why it’s easier for people to write others out of their lives instead of facing painful questions of the past and joining the tough journey of transformation. The reality is that some people will not change. That reality is too much of a risk for some people to take.
Maybe that’s why we love comeback stories. They beat the odds. They surmount the insurmountable. They overcome statistics that say they’ll be washouts, losers, addicts, or whatever other expectations others have of them. I know it’s why I love comeback stories. I admire people with the fortitude to fight through all the naysayers who refuse to believe in them. I know what it’s like to feel that rejection. It’s tough to stay strong and believe in yourself when no one else will.
Whether or not my story is an inspiring story doesn’t matter much to me. What matters to me is that I rise above my failures and transform into the person I should have been from the very beginning. It matters that I do the right thing to make right what I can. I know. I’m an underdog because I made myself one, but I’ll keep putting the hard work in that one day may turn into a comeback story–you can bet on that.
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The opinions expressed within posts and comments are solely those of each author, and are not necessarily those of Women Against Registry. Women Against Registry reserves the right to edit or delete any content submitted.