Bridge… “A time, place, or means of connection or transition.” Bridges… They can invite us to new experiences and growth, or they can lead us away from darkness in our lives. We encounter bridges everyday of our lives. As a member of this race we call “human”, the concept of a bridge is part of what defines us. Bridges are part of our very existence. What we do with them is up to us.
I encounter bridges every day of my life. Many are gifts presented to me. I like to think some of them I build for others. Some bridges I cross, some I walk away from and regrettably some bridges I have burned. I believe the sum total of these experiences make each of us who we are. The connectedness we have with humanity is in part, defined by our experiences with bridges and we have done with them.
We say we believe in justice, however justice is often spelled, r-e-v-e-n-g-e, and that is sad.Michael Spaccarotella
Working with incarcerated men and women has been a humbling experience. While I believe I have helped some and given many, resourceful information, the biggest recipient of insight and understanding has been me. Collectively, these men and women have given me more than I can ever give to them.
The forgotten Population by Society
They are often a scorned and forgotten population by society. I learned very early in my career that very often one unhealthy decision is all that separates me from them. I am them and they are me. Sadly, society does not share that perspective. We say we believe in justice, however justice is often spelled, r-e-v-e-n-g-e, and that is sad.
The definition of justice to many is what they read in newsprint and watch on local news. Sadly, that is far from truth and sometimes even reality. Today’s news is about headlines and sensationalism and very little to do with facts. We see that play out on a daily basis. When a crime has been committed and we see the accused, we have already passed judgement on the individual. They are guilty and need to pay for what they have done. It begins and ends there.
The very core of what I do is making a connection. Maybe I am a “bridge builder” of sorts.Michael Spaccarotella
I have learned that for most crimes committed, there is a series of experiences, a story if you will, that led to the commission of that crime. If we as a society, paused to learn just a little about the history of the person, it may shift our perspective of the events just enough for us to realize that he or she is not that different from us. Our failure to do this sentences these individuals to wear a proverbial “scarlet letter” for the remainder of their lives.
I have listened compassionately to scores of life stories. Each one is often heartbreaking and always reminds me not only how fortunate I am, but how much we all have in common and how connected we really are. The very core of what I do is making a connection. Maybe I am a “bridge builder” of sorts. For some, I am the first person in their life who “cared” and perhaps gave them a reason and a purpose to want something better for themselves and is willing to be stand by and be a companion as they cross that bridge. What’s wrong with that?
Michael Spaccarotella has been a counselor in a correctional facility for 15 years. Prior to completing his Masters work in counseling, he had a successful 25 year career in the business world. Additionally, Michael spent 6 years of study in spirituality and prayer in the Catholic seminary. Michael is also a lifelong song writer/guitar player. He is about to release his first solo album. Michael is also the co-producer of, “Walking Through Purgatory, An Ex-Offenders Struggle With Reentry”, a short documentary that looks at the connection between; mental health, addiction, criminal behavior and the justice system.