The holiday season is the time of year when we are all reminded to treat each other with a bit more respect and a lot more love.
We take the time to give to those who do their best to make our lives a little easier like the mailman or the doorman, and we volunteer to wrap presents or feed the hungry.
All of the outpouring comes from a place of wanting to feel connected to everyone else around us, with one exception. That exception may have a gift that we can use long after the new year has begun.
The exception is those in our society who have committed violent crimes against the rest of us and are now securely locked away. They are often left out of any goodwill.
The idea of wishing well for someone who has willfully taken the life of another can be too much for most of us. A violent crime not only changes the course of the victims directly in its path, but ripples out for generations. Forgiveness can seem like a ridiculous request.
However, that's not what we're talking about here. There's this idea of redemption that reaches beyond the forgiveness we can attempt to offer one another, which is often wrapped tightly around who did what, and grabs on to atonement instead.
In other words, it has to begin with the one who committed the act rather than with the one who was harmed, and trying to stuff the pipeline the other way around often ends in frustration for everyone. Love is always accessible, but it has to start from within, not without, and can't be denied even based on our actions.
"Whatever you have done, or not done, you are worthy of love," said Dr. John Demartini, www.drdemartini.com, CEO of the Demartini Institute and participant in the blockbuster movie, "The Secret." He was speaking to 1,000 inmates this week at the South African maximum security prison, Krugerdorp.
"The greatest gift you could give yourselves is to expand your own minds. There is no place of constraint in your mind," said Demartini.
Take that idea and add in the idea of willingness. If there is this concept of redemption that is available to anyone, just for the asking, then the path to receiving it comes when we try it out.
There's no skill level required, only a willingness to stick to responsibility and then humility, so that even those who have been shut away from the rest of us, and with good reason, can find peace and then forgiveness for themselves.
It's the same plan for the rest of us, who commit the more mundane errors against each other, like taking each other for granted, cheating on a spouse or lying on our resume. If we can admit responsibility to what is ours, amend what we can and change our choices the next time, we will experience a peaceful life regardless of whether we are confined or not.
The sort of love Demartini is talking about with those who will never return to the open air of society is the sort that sees the difference between who we are, and what we've done, and waits patiently for us to catch on as well.
Then, we have the opportunity to recognize that love was never something to be earned. Instead, see love as the most powerful tool available to you at any given moment that can affect the greatest changes, even after the holiday season is over.
Understand that no matter how meager you may see your own surroundings, great things are possible right from where you're standing. However, the only way to learn this lesson is to begin and take that first small step right from where you are. More adventures to follow.
Ask Martha how to get to your dream and receive a free gift of Martha's new Big Adventure book, The 3 x 5 Game -- www.marthasbigadventure.com.
Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail her at: Martha@caglecartoons.com.