Friday, May 1, 2009
Eighteen Days Until My Release From Taft Federal Prison Camp
It’s a new month and the last month I’ll begin as a prisoner. There were times during this sentence when I felt so far away from the month of May. My work carried me through. Now we are here, and in eighteen more days I will walk on the right side of prison boundaries.
When I leave Taft Camp I want to feel totally free, cleansed of all the wrong that I’ve done and prepared to live the rest of my life as an honorable man. This sanction has brought a measure of wisdom, a feeling of wholeness that did not exist before I wore a prisoner’s clothes. I tried to express that evolution through my book, Lessons From Prison, and I hope to live up to those words I wrote.
The lessons keep coming, incidentally. Indeed, I’ve decided to move forward with more consideration for the influence my words can have on the lives of others. In the past, I have been completely forthright about the bad decisions I made as a stockbroker at Bear Stearns and UBS. That honesty was necessary, I thought, in order to help white-collar offenders and students of ethics understand the gray areas of corporate culture, and the weakness that follows those who fail to make values-based decisions.
Upon leaving this prison term behind, I am completely committed to living an honorable life, and I encourage others to hold me accountable. Yet in moving forward, I’ve come to the conclusion that in revealing the bad decisions I made, I don’t have to reveal the names of others who joined me in abandoning the principles of good conduct. As I wrote in Lessons From Prison, a wise man is one who is secure in judging himself, yet tolerate in the judgment of others.
The pursuit of a values-based life means that I make good decisions, and that all of the decisions have root in honor. I must strengthen my core, and to succeed in that endeavor, I must release all negative energies. There can no longer be room for grudges, for petty jealousies. I must move forward as a man of good character, wishing good will, happiness and success to all.
There is a power that comes with forgiveness, and I move forward with a clear heart. I had once clung to beliefs that others had wronged me. In retrospect, I realize that I am who I am and I am where I am because of the decisions that I made yesterday. Today I am thinking of the man I strive to become tomorrow, and that requires a pursuit of excellent and good. These are the empowering lessons I’ve learned from prison.