Tattoos on the Heart: Success

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  • Topic: Gang, Crips, Bloods
  • Pages : 5 (1803 words )
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  • Published : July 19, 2013
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Gregory Boyle begins chapter eight: “Success with a few questions that seem so simplistic at first glance. What is success and what is failure? What is good and what is bad? Setback or progress?” (Boyle 167). Taking a few moments to process these questions, one realizes that the question is quite complex and difficult. Success has such a subjective definition that it can only be defined by the one who answers the question of “what is success to you?” and has no universal definition. Specifically with gang members, success in the context of their lives is about personal growth and less about tangible results. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”(Biblegateway). Their lives have endured much turmoil and through experiences they find what is good and acceptable and perfect to themselves. Individuals may have their own views on success and failures, and these views may be similar or vastly different. Success for anyone, particularly the gang members, is doing the best one can in any given situation. This may be forgiving the killer of your son or deciding to discontinue participation in gang activities. Although defining success proves to be elusive there are many forms of success that should be embraced with open arms. From personal experiences my definition of success has differed greatly from time to time. This is similar to how success of a gang member is dependent on where they currently happen to be in their lives. On one day success was defined as getting out of bed and staying awake for me, just as how a gang member thinking about changing his life. Getting out of bed is quite an insignificant act on its own, but in that period of my life I was not able to function and this was considered to be quite successful. A gang member simply thinking about his life may not be a significant act on its own, but when he has dwelled in chaos all of his life, this thought is like a shining light piercing the clouds that hinder him. All of a sudden these insignificant acts take on the form of complete success. On another day success was thriving and excelling in college. Getting out of bed and staying awake was success for me when I was in the midst of a depressive episode, and now success is fully applying myself in college courses. Simply getting up out of bed compared to excelling in college, one can recognize that these actions differ greatly, but given the circumstances, are both successes. This same philosophy can and ought to be applied to former and current gang members. Consider Stan, he is the co-founder of the Crips street gang and is on death-row for past crimes he has been convicted of. Stan is also the epitome of success. Father Gregory Boyle has said that Stan is "not the person he was 27 years ago, and if he is granted clemency, his impact on kids, who plan their funerals and not their futures, will continue" (Allen). He has transcended from his previous life and become a resource against his original foundation of gang life. When we acknowledge the past decisions Stan has made and compare those decisions to where he is now, the amount of success found in that comparison is absolutely immense. In any circumstance speaking out against the negative consequences of gang banging is a feat on its own, but in the context of Stan’s life he lived and breathed gang life. Now he is speaking out against gang violence and this is what makes Stan the epitome of success. From where he was to where he is, he is a changed man.

Success is like the silver lining of every cloud. Even in the case of a grieving mother screaming and wailing out of agony when hearing her son has died, success can be found. “All the homies gathered together plotting vengeance… I lean over and whisper to her that Victor is dead. And this time the homies are there to hear… Screams that curdle your insides. The...