It's not everyday you meet incredibly happy, optimistic, loving people who actively live what they believe...but today is your lucky day. Sithy Bin came to the US as a refugee at 4 years old. Sadly, Sithy was introduced to gang life in 6th grade. He has some very enlightening things to share about the lies and brainwashing kids experience in this lifestyle. In his early 20s he was sentenced to 40 years to life in prison for his gang related activities. You will be amazed at the highs and lows this incredible man has endured throughout his life and yet he remains optimistic.
Sithy brought up an interesting point on his decision to join the gang...not only was it considered just the next step because everyone around him was doing it, but he wanted the dual benefits of belonging and protection. The need for acceptance and to impress silenced his initial desire to not participate in the illegal activities of the gang. He was slowly desensitized to the impact of his crimes on others because the praise received from fellow gang members was worth more than the values of his conscience. It wasn't until he was sent to prison that he woke up to the fact that all the gang activity was actually hurting their own communities; it was typically rival gangs of the same ethnicities doing harm to each other. I'm intrigued by his insight and want to follow up with research of my own. Why do we so often choose things that go against our good? Why do we sabotage ourselves and our communities? I see this happen in the people we vote for, in personal relationships, with our eating habits, in education. It is truly a sad phenomenon. But the promise of change and good comes with awakening. Sithy no longer lets lies guide him. He woke up to the reality of his choices and the harmful effects they had not only on himself but his entire community.
As messed up as our prison system is, here is another individual who is actually thankful he ended up in prison because he knows it saved his life and possibly the life of a future victim. This is the paradox of life, isn't it? Sometimes we think something is bad, but it turns out to be good for us and vice versa. There are alot of people and organizations trying to bring good out of an inherently bad system. For that, I am thankful.
Sithy said a phrase I had never heard before and attributed it to the founder of Defy...learning to dance with fear. I find that incredibly freeing and beautiful and relatable. You don't have to be imprisoned or formerly incarcerated to understand or relate to that analogy. We all have our own dance with fear. May we learn to hold the tension between fear and joy and learn to dance with our fear, just as Sithy has.
Sithy's motto for living: "A smart person learns from his mistakes, a wise person learns from the mistakes of others." - Anonymous