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The Founding of Lifespring

Reflections on the Worth of Lifespring

The Business Acceleration Workshop

The Basic Training In Federal Prison

How to Realize Your Dreams and Improve Your Life

A Graduate's Story

The Basic Training In Federal Prison - Page 3

Over 40% of the women had children, one of them nine. The training took place in the "Children's Center," the place where children are brought on weekends to visit their mothers. There were little potty chairs in the restrooms.

The most striking difference between the men at Ft. Grant and the women inmates was that the men, once they had broken through the barrier of their belief that strong men don't cry or show their emotions, made free use of the word "love." Most of them got up and said "You are my brothers!" and I saw that to them the word "love" was synonymous with "hurt."

They had been hurt so deeply where they gave their love that they now regarded this tender emotion with fear. They had built a protective shells of mistrust around their inner core to prevent being hurt again. Some told me they were in prison because they had allowed themselves to be used by their men as accessories, and so they felt bitter.

Instead of "love," the women said things like, "I want everyone to like me!" or "I want your support and friendship!" or "I want a husband, a home, children, respect, kindness, consideration, and I want to make my family happy." But they dared not say "love!"

A Lifespring photographer and I were having lunch one day in the prison dining hall when Velma, a young bank robber, joined us. Velma said she had robbed some 22 banks for a total take of $80,000. Not much in view of the risks but quite a lot for someone from the poverty level. She never did get caught, she said. Some snitch, maybe her ex-husband, turned her in for the $50,000 reward the banks offered for her conviction. I found myself unwittingly regarding her with admiration for her bold courage and skill in spite of my disapproval of crime in general.

On the previous day, Velma had taken the mic to say how much the training had done for her, thanking a few specific persons for their "support" and asking for more "support" from the group. They had given her a standing demonstration of their "support!"

At lunch I asked her why she had asked for "support" instead of "love," which I felt was what she really wanted. She didn't know why, but that afternoon she rose and again asked for the mic. She said, "Yesterday I asked you for support and you gave it to me. Today I want to retract that request. Instead I want your love!" She got it in an outburst of applause.

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