Another obstacle in front of this man in terms of his chief goal, romantic love, is his narrow, society-influenced view that true love is between a man and a woman. By convincing yourself that your one true love is of a certain gender, you reduce your chances of finding them by half. Black and white depictions of sexuality created by this Christian-influenced western society serve only to hamper progress and alienate people, when in reality they are just as weird as everyone else.
This letter feels different from the others, probably because the one who has written this letter hasn't really come to terms with his incarceration yet. He still has regrets that he can't accomplish things that, as he grew up, was conditioned to want out of life. While his situation is quite dire, he has taken a very melancholy and pessimistic look at it. What he doesn't realize is that worrying and crying about it still won't let him accomplish what he wants to do. While having love would be a wonderful thing, it is certainly not the only thing that one should aspire to have. Romantic love is actually one of the worst things to gauge one's happiness by, as it is dependent on another person, who is just as fickle and ever-changing as the world around us. It is far better on the mind, soul, and heart if one is to just find fun things to do and just generally live a life without regrets. Love will come and pass, hopefully to stay for a while. But ultimately, even if one does find true love, we all have to face the end by ourselves. If you can come to terms with that before the end of life, it will greatly ease the mental load that the notion of one's own mortality brings. Even if he is dead set on finding love, crying about it won't do anything. Do you remember that other guy who gave up? Yep, and neither does anyone else. If this man truly wants happiness, he should really re-evaluate his definition of happiness with regards to his current situation.
The article starts off with the grim statistic of 761 soldiers lost in combat versus 817 soldiers who took their own lives since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, and that is what stuck with me the most after reading this. It's so strange to think of soldiers as real people with psychological issues when they're always portrayed as these superhuman characters who fight evil, and they only die for dramatic impact, like to give the main characters a reason to go on. Or a single one will pull off incredible feats of skill, taking on 50 enemy soldiers at once and emerging unscarred. In real life, it's much more bleak than that. The stress of living over there must be unimaginable, not knowing when or where death will come, if the last time you saw your family and loved ones would be the last time ever, and even if you do survive the day, the cycle repeats the next day. This is compounded by the fact that they are trained to suppress emotions and tolerate intense pain, emotional, mental and physical. In addition, many loved ones back home can't handle the stress of having a significant other overseas, and sever relationships in an attempt to preserve both of their feelings, which also has quite the opposite impact. All of this cycles together and builds upon itself, and this is how many are driven to suicide. These people are expected to suddenly step out of their normal life and become an emotionless robot and then after their deployment, resume their life as if nothing happened. This is completely impossible, and if someone puts this facade up for long enough, it can easily lead to suicide. However, the fact that the military is trying to mitigate this problem makes me feel better. Whether it's out of common decency or because they realize they'll run out of soldiers, I don't know. Regardless, if it helps, it helps. These people volunteered to fight to defend this country, and really do not deserve a cold, emotionless existence for an extended period of time and all the psychological problems that result in exchange.
I can see the appeal of sexual promiscuity, but it just seems so empty to me. Personally, I would pick love over sex any day. However, this man's problems aren't really due to sexual promiscuity, they're more due to his inability to realize when something has gone too far. He should really be warning his family and friends about the danger of not knowing your own limits and when to bail out of a dangerous or risky situation, or even not engaging in risky behavior. I can understand how he got to where he is due to an inability to stop, as I have the same problem, though in a different way, and sometimes I get in some relatively sticky situations. I have been caught multiple times smoking weed. While this is not nearly as dangerous, it can still put a big impact on my future if I am caught. Now that I'm of age and in college, the consequences are much more real. Of course, unless something major happens, I won't be spending life in prison, but a misdemeanor would still hamper my chances at getting a job in a career that I enjoy. This, combined with my insistence on lying, even about the most minor things, has caused my parents to lose a great deal of trust in me, and rightfully so, as I keep making the same mistakes. I'm quite sure that if things were different, I would have a lot more freedom at home, less of my parents asking about who I'm hanging out with and what I'm doing with them. People in general need to realize how much too much is, and then make the decision to get out while they can, before something really bad happens, like this inmate failed to do. Really, one has to weigh out the options: engage in risky behavior which, although fun, can potentially put one in a very bad situation, or find alternative ways to have fun which go with the law. I can only hope to learn from this man and learn form my problems.
This letter really made me realize all sorts of freedoms I have that I never really even considered freedoms. They were really just things in my life that I do without a second thought. Some of them (getting a haircut, taking a bath) are even things that children are forced to do until a certain age. Even now, as I sit on my bed in my dorm room, typing up this response on my laptop, I am taking advantage of multiple freedoms offered to me as a college student. Like Sam said in class, you really can't fully understand your own situation until you step outside yourself and take a look at everything. The one that really hit me the hardest was getting a breath of fresh air and watching the sunrise/sunset. In the middle of a heavy load of homework, nothing quite beats stepping outside for a smoke or even just some fresh air. I couldn't imagine a life where I'm not even free to do something as simple as that. However, it's reassuring to know that freedom of choice is a given regardless of your situation. Of course, sometimes the repercussions of such choices will be harsher, but the choice itself is ultimately up to the person doing the choosing.
It's reassuring, though, that he still retains his freedom of thought. This is one freedom I will always hold far above any other freedom, as it is what makes life worth living above all else.
B. has been in jail since he was 18. As an 18 year old myself, I can't even fathom spending the next 13 years of my life in jail, let alone the rest of my life. It's hard to believe that the thought-provoking material in that letter is coming from someone who did something bad enough that he got life in jail. I never would have thought that I would learn more about myself and my position in society from a criminal serving a life sentence.