“ People get discouraged. They should remember, from me, it takes courage not to be discouraged” _ Ben Ferencz
Life has a way of throwing us curve-balls. Just when we manage to reach full strength again, having worked through the latest trying situation and are cruising down the highway of life, we’re laid off at work, a friend or family member passes away unexpectedly, we get bad news from the appellate courts, or we all find ourselves having to deal with something like the global corona virus pandemic. I think that the Covid19 international emergency that is now affecting the entire world qualifies as a curve-ball. And the ensuing feelings of anxiety, fear and extreme stress are real life and death challenges that everyone is being forced to deal with. When something like this unexpected situation presents itself it’s easy to allow these feeling to overwhelm us and cause us to freak out but in times like these, this is when we must maintain courage, faith and hope!
It’s hard to describe how surreal it is to sit in my cell on Texas death row where nothing has changed in my daily existence. I continue to get my meals at the same time, the usual guards come to work so I see the same faces, and everything that is unreliable in this place goes on being unreliable, so nothing feels different. What changes my perception on what’s happening around the globe is brought into my daily existence through the news progress I listen to on my radio. I tune into National Public Radio broadcast from Houston, which is covering that corona virus situation across the USA. I also listen to the BBC broadcast which gives me up-to-date reports on what’s happening in Europe and abroad. As of today, most of Europe is on lockdown and I will not be surprised if the same thing happens in the USA in a week or two.
As I process this unbelievable news that flows in from the outside world, I think of all my friends and loved ones. I hope everyone is safe and have supplies to make it through these lockdown periods. And because I’m always on lockdown on Texas death row, I realize that the fee world is about to experience what it feels like to be incarcerated. Everyone is going to get a small taste of what it’s like to have to stay in a small area and hot be allowed to go out and do as they please, irrespective of social status. You can have a trillion dollars, if you go the wrong places and expose yourself, you will contract the corona virus. Ask Hollywood actor Tom Hanks, ask Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Like death, the corona virus is a great equalizer and whoever is exposed to it can and will get it.
I’m also aware of the fact that this global pandemic carries with it life and death consequences. It may be that you are young and in good health, and if you contract the virus you’ll survive. But that does not mean that your grandparents will survive the corona virus. For me, it doesn’t get more matter-of-fact than that. I think in many ways that type of life and death threat is even worse than a personal threat. What if your loved one dies because you did not think it was serious enough to stay home and keep social distance the officials are requesting?
This mirrors the kind of situation an individual on Texas death row faces. We’re locked in a cage for years on end and we know there is a killer on the loose looking for victims it can take. If you find yourself exposed to this killer in the form of having exhausted all legal appeals on your conviction and death sentences, the killer will come for you just like the corona virus is coming after vulnerable souls in the free world. Men and women on death row across the world live under these circumstances and we know how this can affect you.
“Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.” Corrie Ten Boom
So how do we make it through the fire? How do we take the nasty surprise that the corona virus pandemic is and find our center and balance again, and stop freaking out? For me it comes down to faith, belief and hope. When things seem impossible, when the world looks like it’s going to end, now more than ever do we need to have faith and trust in a Higher Power. Because it’s in situations exactly like this one we realize how little control we have over our lives and how much we need to remember that in extreme challenges like the corona virus we must believe in God.
We must believe and have faith that a Higher Power is at work in our lives. Belief and faith have incredible power and when we struggle in times like these we need to believe in something.
I remember when I first began my journey on this saga that is my life on Texas death row. I did not know how I was going to take it or how I might find people who could help me or even how to go about challenging the “evidence” used to convict and sentence me to death. I had no concrete answers but I believed in something. I had hope that this was not the end and one day I would walk out of this place a free man. That faith and belief is what has kept me alive and somehow some way the Universe has provided what I need. I’m not all the way out just yet – but I’m close! And so it is with everyone else. We may be down but we’re not out, and through faith, we can gather ourselves, believe and overcome whatever obstacle that presents itself in our lives.
“Be kinder than necessary. Everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle. You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.” _ Anonymous.
Once again I speak from personal experience. When I feel anxious, when I feel stressed out or down and out, I know one of the best ways to begin to work myself out of that state is by helping others. I know that in the coming days, weeks and months, it might become easy to focus on yourself and your needs because of the difficulties the corona virus outbreak causes. But when we feel the stress, anxiety and outright fear, this is the kind of situation that will create one of the best way to shift our perspective is to focus on the sufferings of others. When we do this we remember we’re not alone in our suffering and there’s always someone who is worse off than we are. Just as it is here, the men and women on death row across the world actively help each other especially when things get difficult, we can everyone lend a helping hand in the free world. The current situation right now does not allow you to knock on your neighbor’s door and ask how they are, but that does not stop you from leaving a note asking how they are and how you might be able to help and leaving you phone number and e-mail address. That’s just one example of how you can do your part in looking out for one another in the free world.
There’s something about easing the suffering of another soul when you’re also suffering that allows both of you to come away from that pain, feeling better and healed just a bit.
Together with faith and belief in a Higher Power and by putting yourself to work for the good we can all make it through this challenging period in our lives. And having faced this real fear together we’ll be stronger for it and in the process, maybe you will have gained some new friends around you too!
With all of us leaning into this situation, we can unite and overcome this international emergency.
And be better for it too!
LOVE, PEACE, HOPE and GOOD HEALTH TOO!