Ex-Con Visits the US Capitol Building

I was in the halls of justice. The US Capitol building where all the laws that imprisoned me for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense were passed. I didn’t really know how I felt. Should I be angry, sad, outraged, melancholy, relieved? I wasn’t really sure. I just knew that going to the US Capitol on a tour was sometning I wanted, even needed to do.

As my wife and I waited for the tour I contemplated how I felt. How did I feel about the lawmakers that enacted the mandatory minimums and sentencing guidelines that kept me locked up for 21 years? For a long time I was angry and I channled that anger into starting a career as a writer from my jail cell. That anger drove me and kept me striving toward my goal relentlessly.

But that anger was long gone.

I guess I felt kind of resigned. Almost like I’d come full circle. I did my time. I conquered the beast. I made the journey down that long tunnel. It was hard to see the light at the end at times, but I perservered. And now here I was in the halls of justice. The bastion of democracy. I was standing in the seat of power.

I don’t know what I was expecting. If all of a sudden it would all make sense. If I would get some reasoning behind my long incarceration. In a way I was looking for Lady Justice, but she wasn’t there. And in essence she is just a metaphor for what our country stands for. Not a real person.

I realized standing there and taking the tour, walking around and seeing the statues that these were just the halls of men and women. Politicians who make laws and like me they are human and imperfect. With regrets and reasons and mistakes. I was happy that I’d let my anger go a long time ago. I wasn’t the young man full of fury that I was once.

The US Capitol was full of people. Citizens from different countries and our own who all had their own reasons for visiting just as I did. I could apprecaite the pomp and the ceremony and the majasticness of it all. I could understand why the War on Drugs was launched. Why all the laws are made. It’s all very reactionary I believe. Standing there I could feel history and the arguments and the decisions and the reasons why.

Maybe I didn’t like them all. Maybe I didn’t like the 21 years I did in prison, but finally I understood. But maybe as I have gotten older my understanding has gotten better. At the end of the day I am American and I love my country and I would die for my country and the ideals it represents. Are we as a nation perfect? No. But I wouldn’ want to live anywhere else.

I am out now and free and able to move about the country. I am writing as a career and getting into so many other things that I wasn’t able to while I was locked inside the belly of the beast. Life is good, but to me understanding is paramount. I have to know where I have been and where I am going. What it al means in the big scheme of things. Visiting the US Capitol building helped me to understand that.

Maybe I should have spit on the building in disdain, but like I said I’m not angry anymore. Visiting the halls of justice just reaffirmed my faith in my country even though I felt that they did me wrong. But I can accept that and move on. Life is about progressing and looking toward the future instead of dwelling on the past and this trip helped me to fully realize that.

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