A Murderer Explains Redemption


I was the piece of shit responsible for Stefan losing his life. After working through the shame and magical thinking that I could somehow alter the past and bring him back or switch places with him, I wondered why I kept waking up each morning. I caused Stefan’s death, shouldn’t I cause my own? An eye for an eye? Yet God was giving me the gift of life, a sacred second chance. Was I smarter than God? Waking up, I could embrace the potential of redemption or lose myself in a meaningless existence. I chose redemption.

For me, redemption is the idea that it is possible to move forward and transform a horrific act or mistake by realizing the preciousness of life. Doing redemption: It is a challenge to look deeply within myself for the causes and conditions that allow me to become fully accountable for my actions.

Fortunately, there are many figures who have found and exercised their potential for redemption (King David, Moses, the Apostle Paul, etc.). Demanding more from myself means creating a ripple effect that demands better from those closest to me and my environment.

I take heart that the idea of redemption reimagines what is possible for a wrong doer to move beyond his worst moment to create awareness and opportunities for others. Waking up to redemption means waking up to accountability, to the knowledge that God has given us this day to learn, to care, to embrace the gift of life (despite denying it to someone else), to bring light, hope and healing that allows the human to make a mistake, acknowledge it, learn from it and move forward.

—Michael Shane Hale.

Hale is in prison at Sing Sing for his “natural life,” or until he dies for getting into a fight with his friend and killing him. Since he has been in prison, he has created a sangha there as well as worked for LGBT prisoners' rights

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