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Essay: "Courage"

Courage Kilpatrick, Thomas

There's no awards, medals or prizes if you devote your time to the many of us who are lucky enough to read this newsletter and all it's contents. You rock. I'm the only guilty convict here at this prison. No seriously. All you have to do is ask. Bad choices and an entanglement of drugs and selfishness have me behind these bars. A body full of tattoos, scars and 1000 stories. I was a high school drop out in the 9th grade. My book knowledge was extremely limited. I was a leader in a white prison gang, Aryan Circle of Texas. Macho, tough-ass who wouldn't listen to nobody. Here I am 15 years in prison. I've served 4 years of this 15 year sentence. Someone kind of caring like you showed me there is so much more to life than what I knew. A very beneficial person who volunteered a bit of time stood up to me and changed my life forever. Courage? I was a coward. A coward uses a physical strength to accomplish things. Using my fears to create hate and misunderstandings for other races of people. People different than me. I thought I was courageous because I had all these tattoos and people respected that I was in a gang. Wrong. A cowardly act. I am no longer in a gang. My life has changed 180 degrees. I love myself. I embrace education. I embrace all people. I speak against gangs, racists and bullies. It all started by realizing I can be myself and not prove anything to anyone. I can have emotions. Yes, can you believe it. I can care about people. I had to make a choice…stay in a gang and live that way, which was not me, or step away and begin a life of change. It's dangerous. You all know the way they say you can get out of a gang. So be it. That's the courage I want to be known by. I'm not courageous. I am a proud father of a 9 year old son. He is full of courage. Having to live without me takes a lot of courage. Being a man in a boy's body speaks courage. Making all A's on his report cards. Playing football, basketball and racing little motorcycles takes courage. Being a big brother to two siblings takes courage. Being able to love me through all my failures…he is courage. I'm a coward next to him. His name is Jonathan and I hope all of you experience courage in such a pure way. Life isn't always just about you. Sometimes it has to be about someone else. Use courage to make good choices for yourself.