Freedom Isn't Free

by Mike Powers

[Adapted from a presentation given to the Therapeutic Community on my wing here at the Hightower Unit by myself.]

For years, British and American intelligence services and the troop divisions assigned to them had been working tirelessly to pull off the biggest bluff in the history of warfare since the giant wooden horse was wheeled into Troy. This modern-day hoax involved giant, blow-up tanks that would be dragged from field to field in the middle of the night amazing befuddled English farmers as they got to their chores in the early-morning sun. It included life-size, balsa-wood replicas of Allied troop transport ships. And, masterfully, it especially included a carefully calculated release of a certain high-ranking German general who had been previously captured. He would be driven a particular route to his awaiting ship, a route that just so happened to be in view of amassed tanks, airplanes and artillery. The general wouldn't find out until after the war that nearly all of the equipment he saw was wooden or cardboard. The only thing real were the thousands of confused soldiers who had been told to "man" the equipment and "look busy". All of this was done in the run-up to the Allied invasion of Normandy, today known as "D-Day". It would become the largest amphibious invasion ever attempted, and it would succeed, but at a high price. Even though Hitler and his commanders were entirely fooled and wouldn't reposition any of their defensive reinforcements because they were absolutely certain D-Day was a diversion for a much larger invasion elsewhere, 17,000 Allied soldiers would die establishing a beachhead on the northern coasts of France. This costly victory, however, paved the way to Germany's subsequent defeat. Shortly afterwards, Hitler would commit suicide and the Nazis would surrender. The 291,557 Americans who gave their lives fighting in World War II established the United States as a world-power beacon of freedom, and the democracies that later emerged from Western Europe and Japan remain strong and friendly to this day. Freedom isn't free.

World War II, however, wasn't the first time Americans had been willing to die for freedom. During the American Revolution, 4,435 men died to win independence from British tyranny. In the Civil War, 140,414 soldiers gave their lives to settle the question of whether black men would be free citizens and how much power the federal government held over the state plurality. And still today, Americans are endangered and fighting on the other side of the globe to bring freedom and democracy to countries that have never known them before. Yes, the results haven't always been what we hoped, but let that not detract from the courage of the men and women risking their lives to make others' better. Freedom isn't free.

As I was thinking about how these men and women were willing to expend their blood for such a worthy cause, it occurred to me that we too are in a fight for our freedom. Participation in this program is a mighty effort, a battle whose outcome could very well determine the course of the rest of our lives, determine the fate of families, and settle the question of whether or not we will live as free men. I've sat in these chairs and listened as men recounted the "war stories" of addiction and struggle, and the ways they are fighting to better themselves. They tell of the hopes of stronger families, loving homes with present and active fathers, safer communities. They've recounted frustration and weaknesses, and in doing so, have shown their true strength. But one thing becomes crystal clear over and over. Our freedom will not be free. Of course, you cannot sit in the "hot seat" and share your life story and be a coward. You cannot face your issues and needs if you lack courage. You will never come clean of deviant sexual behavior without the willingness to pay the price.

Change, from this program, is ours for the taking, but we WILL NOT acquire it without effort. It will not come without a fight. If, at any time during these nine months, you find yourself saying, "This is easy," I respectfully suggest to you, friend, that you are not giving the kind of effort it will take to break free and live clean.

In a movie called, "Facing the Giants", a football coach pours his heart into coaching skeptical teens into believing they could be champions. He finds the biggest, mouthiest player, makes one of his teammates climb on his back, and orders him to do a fireman crawl down the field. The big man huffs and puffs for a few yards and collapses. Unsatisfied, the coach puts a blindfold on him and tells him to do the exercise again. Along the way, the coach is screaming encouragement, yelling, "You can do it! Keep going!" When the boy collapses in total exhaustion, he has crawled the entire length of the football field to the amazement of everyone on his team including himself. The team, of course, goes on to win the state championship. Freedom isn't free.

Gentlemen, if you aren't putting in 100% of your effort, you might still get oct of this program, but will you get everything OUT of this program? You will not, and you will never be the dad, the husband or the even the MAN that you were meant to be. Inevitably, you will get to the end of your life and vender, "What if I'd tried harder? What if I'd given it my best?"

Finally, I want you to know that "Offender" is not your identity, it is simply your current location, and changing starts with an exercise of the mind. We must believe we can be elsewhere and determines that we will make the effort to change so we can move off this ground onto higher ground. Like those who have fought and died before us, we will fight ourselves, and for the same reasons. Freedom isn't free.

The Attorneys
  • Francisco Hernandez
  • Daniel Hernandez
  • Phillip Hall
  • Rocio Martinez