SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2008

It’s November 30, the last Sunday in November. While at USC, I remember studying about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I don’t remember details. Essentially, Maslow, a Harvard psychologist, outlined motivation platforms for human behavior. We had to satisfy our basic needs for food, shelter, and clothing before we could value higher virtues such as ethics, justice and redemption.

As a federal prisoner, registration number 44499-112, I embrace the privilege of time that I now have for introspection. While lying on my steel rack, alone in my cubicle, I can sense where I had begun to fall off course.

Immediately after my university education, I dove into the ruthless and cut throat world of money management. In chasing a higher income, I neglected my allegiance to the principles of good character that was not the case before I set out on my own.

In my childhood, my parents, Tallie and Bernie, looked after my older brother, Todd, and me with careful attention. It felt as if our parents derived their own sense of happiness and fulfillment by indulging Todd and me with every conceivable privilege. While under their care, I committed to sports, enjoyed a young career and was thought by many to be a gifted athlete. At that time in my life, fairness and the code of good sportsmanship mattered. Such virtues had a value in and of themselves, as I saw through the fine examples my parents set.

When I jumped into the ocean of money management, I began swimming in the midst of sharks. Suddenly, I didn’t have the generosity of my parents to provide for my every need. I had to provide for my own food clothing and shelter. With income demands, I neglected such niceties that distinguish an honorable man from Leviathan’s world of the beast.

We fast forward now to federal prison camp where administrators provide for my food, clothing and shelter. Here I have all the time I need to appreciate the magnitude of my errors. Truly, I feel such remorse for the humiliation my struggles with the criminal justice system have caused. And in the unexpected calm of my prison cubicle, I contemplate the steps I must take to reconcile with society.

By writing about this journey, I hope to help others avoid the temptations and lack of judgment to which I succumbed. For those who find themselves caught in the web, I hope that my work will help them find their way back. With the prison providing for my basic needs, I find myself with this second opportunity to embrace the virtues of good citizenship, contribute to society and prove myself worthy of the guidance and love my parents bestowed upon me.

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