It didn’t begin as friendship. Both the prosecutor and gangster brought their own viewpoints to the scheduled meetings, keeping a measured physical distance between each other. One day, however, the prosecutor made the decision to shorten their physical distance and joined him on the bench he was sitting. This one act of kindness grew into a mutual respect and acceptance over a period of months.
She began seeing him as a young man who had a life of “hard knocks” that were not entirely all his own doing, even though he had to 'own' his personal choices. He saw a perspective of the law, that included justice, but with kindness and not just a desire to put all young, black men behind bars.
The young man still had to pay for his crimes, but his manner and attitude toward his ‘situation’ changed. The prosecutor believed the young man could make the change required to start a new life, and he accepted the challenge.
Our lives are defined by our choices. We each have ‘hard knocks’ that can catapult us into situations that left unchecked, can make our lives much different than what we had imagined. But when someone believes in us, it helps put things in the proper perspective and can help us get back on track.
This same is true of our children. As parents we watch (and cringe) while attempting to raise our children right. It seems no matter how hard we try, our offspring want to take a different path than we’d like. That’s not a bad thing in itself. Our children need to be true to themselves, until it becomes a problem of legality or life and death. We don’t want them to make choices that will put them in prison, even for a day!
Still, as parents, we need to be available for them, as they grow in knowledge, learn right from wrong, make choices, choose friends, careers and live their lives. It isn’t always going to turn out right. But we need to be like the prosecutor who realized, hard knocks come. We are each still accountable for our actions. But when our children know without a doubt we believe in them, those ‘hard knocks’ and bad choices are less likely to happen.
It’s with delight when we can have a relationship with our children that some might consider an ‘unlikely friendship,’ as we watch them grow and mature into the person they were meant to be.
Beyond that, as adults we make, even if inadvertently, judgement calls on people we don’t know well. We judge on their looks, attitude, behaviors, history (if we know it), what others think or what we think they think, geography, our own history and attitudes, and more. The point is, sometimes our perceptions are skewed by what we don’t know! I encourage you to be careful with making judgements and when you can, become the friend rather than the adversary. Perhaps like the prosecutor and gangster, you’ll be able to create an ‘unlikely friendship!”