Ethics and Action
We Are Returning Citizens, NOT Felons!
A nice ambiance, some tapas to taste, a variety of sumptuous samples, and good people?
Man, I’m there! Count me in. Don’t leave me out.
Most times in an atmosphere such as that, a series of topics will be discussed.
Turns out I like series too.
Series of talks. Series of lectures. Series of sermons. Series of articles on this or that.
I like the series.
Over the coming months, I’d like to have great conversations with you over some good food for thought. This is an introduction to a series in which you and I will talk about ethics and action. It has often been said, ethics is knowing the difference between what you have the right to do and what is the right thing to do. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) has been fighting for what is right since its inception. What is interesting, though, is the amount of effort and time that goes into helping everyday people understand what the right thing really is when it comes to the lives and voices of returning citizens.
The leadership of FRRC gets this one overarching principle: wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it. Right is right even if no one is doing it. FRRC’s core values are driven by an ethic that comes from the conviction that the human dignity of people who are and have been incarcerated or convicted is not lost simply because they have incurred a felony conviction, and they recognize that these same citizens come from and are part of our communities.
“That’s good word,” I’d say if I were in church. Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. And I personally know the power of second chances; that past mistakes do not define a person’s future. It is because of these convictions that the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition works tirelessly to build people power up and down the state of Florida, forming a coalition of returning citizens (formerly convicted persons) who also believe just as strongly that their loved ones and their communities can use their experiences and expertise to help create safer communities. That just feels right, doesn’t it?
What’s more are the actions that the FRRC takes to bring about good and change peoples lives for the better. After all, a core principle of this great organization is simply to be the change you want to see in the world.
As a returning citizen-led membership organization, FRRC is recognized for its work on voting and criminal justice reform issues. Executive Director Desmond Meade led the FRRC to a historic victory in 2018 with the successful passage of Amendment 4, a grassroots citizen’s initiative that restored voting rights to over 1.4 million Floridians with past felony convictions. Amendment 4 represented the single largest expansion of voting rights in the United States in half a century and brought an end to 150 years of a Jim Crow-era law in Florida. Founded in 2011, the FRRC is committed to the restoration of basic civil rights for millions of returning citizens in Florida and to ensuring that people throughout the state understand the right and responsibility of returning citizens to speak and be heard, transform lives and communities, and fully participate in all aspects of society. That’s ethics and action!
I hope you’ll join me over the next several weeks as we take a closer look at the profound catalyst of ethics and the power of action; looking to learn from the core values and perpetual principles of the FRRC.
I recently learned that in physics, power is defined as the transfer of energy. In a light bulb, for example, electricity is transferred into light and heat. A 100-watt light bulb is more powerful than a 60-watt light bulb because there is more energy transferred. The same is true in leadership. It is a leader’s ability to transfer their authority to others that actually gives them their power. As a leading organization in the fight for and empowerment of returning citizens, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition is transferring inspirational energy and transformative power to everyday people who are beginning to understand the inherent abilities within themselves to be the change and thereby make a change.
With ethics in one hand and a plan of action in the other, I believe ordinary people can do extraordinary things. Things they would never have dreamed of doing can actually be accomplished when people perceive their power and are driven by bedrock principles that establish what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood when he said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”