Saturday, August 18, 2012

Graduation in Rikers Island Jail

I wrote this speech for the graduation ceremony in Rikers Island Jail. This particular incarcerated person graduated from the dialectical behavioral therapy program for adolescents housed in solitary confinement. The person I am writing about has a history of violent behavior complimented with violent charges. However, he has found a new way of looking at life thanks to this DBT program. I felt it appropriate therefore to write him this salutation as his road to success has now begun! M.S. The situation that led us to meet here once again since we first met in one central contrasts significantly the person you have the potential to become as well as present yourself as being. The actions that brought you to this program underlie a struggle for self determination that I would like to see develop in a pro-social capacity. It is my sincere belief that what you have learned from the DBT program will allow you to develop this struggle for positive self growth. The extreme black and white thinking that seemed to control your thoughts when we first met do not seem to exist at this time. It is my belief and hope that you are able to understand circumstances from a multidimensional perspective. I am confident that what you learned from this DBT program has improved your thinking. You have not behaved inappropriately, as you have done in the past; and you seem to carry yourself with more calm and confidence. I have to ask myself, is his calm and confident manners the result of knowing that there is a middle path to take? Is his calm and confidence in character and demeanor a result of a self awareness that allows him to validate himself? Has his lack of self destruction been a result of knowing how to validate others who he may disagree with? I believe that the only answer can be yes. I don’t think that it is possible for anyone to have self respect without having self validation. I further believe that I don’t think it is possible to have respect for others without having the ability to look beyond the circumstances. Moreover, I don’t think that it is possible to have self respect and respect for others without carrying yourself with the appropriate level of calm and confidence that you have displayed since becoming part of this program. Now since these characteristics were not so present when we first met, I am forced to believe that you have learned these traits about yourself as a result of what we have been able to offer you within the DBT program. I hope that you share the same vision of yourself as we here who facilitate this program. We believe in your ability to grow from your own self awareness. This program exists because you are capable of achieving success in your life under any circumstance. However, it is not enough for us to believe in your ability, you must believe in your ability as well. What are the potentials you have? One can only imagine. However, it is my hope that the DBT program will remove the road blocks that inhibit the creativity necessary to achieve and give you the ability to think beyond what crisis that confronts you. It is my hope that when a situation arises like the situation that brought us here, you will be able to find the middle path. I am confident that once you are able to utilize these DBT skills, you will be amazed at the strength you have to not only overcome problems but solve problems. As you see this ability develop, your automatic thinking will create all sorts of opportunities that you never realized existed. These opportunities and ambitions will not be made from mine or anyone else’s thinking but your own; because neither I nor anyone else can create your ambitions. Your ambitions are something you must create yourself. Now, with what you are learning, these ambitions can soar higher and in a positive meaningful direction than they ever have. Good and Congratulations on the completion of the DBT program.

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