You probably wonder how my blogs are published online
I write the blogs and send them by mail to Johanna. Johanna converts the text to a blog and is responsible for how it is presented. She searches for photographs to combine with the text, thinks about the tags and the editing part. I have asked Johanna to write here a blog why she committed herself to do this. She has sent me the text to control and to give her my approval to publish her blog which I did. So here it is:
Introduction – My name is Johanna. Derrick and I started corresponding 20 years ago. Before that, I was active for 6 years as a volunteer in a discussion group in a house of detention. I am 68 and since a year I am retired. I have known a long working life, 44 years in total. I worked for about 10 years at a welfare organization where we founded the first shelter for AIDS patients in the 1990s. After that I have worked in various functions at a trade union.
Goal – My goal in life has always been to contribute to a world where we would have more understanding to each other. I think you can only achieve that, if you are willing to listen to each other, to learn about each other and whether you are able to build bridges. It seems to me, it is better to look at what binds us than to what divides us. And that is exactly Derrick and I have done with each other through our letters. Initially we wrote about more superficial topics but we soon started to tell each other our life stories. I have long been inspired by the teachings of Buddhism that Tina Turner also practices.
Derrick – Derrick has evolved a lot over the past 25 years. I was able to experience all of that. What I admire in him is his unrelenting strength to keep on going despite setbacks. He has made many attempts to get his case reopened, to collect proof of his innocence, to educate himself, but also to survive in a harsh, racist environment. For me, Derrick is very inspiring because he is able, after 25 years in prison, to feel love even for his enemies. I think that’s the essence of life. That we forgive, understand and accept each other. Derrick is always positive and he never complains although he has every reason to.
Blogs – With the blogs Derrick tries to create attention for the injustice that has been done to him, but at the same time there is also his wish that others, by reading his experiences and his attitude to life, are inspired. Despite our different backgrounds, culture, lifestyle, age, Derrick and I have been able to create a bond. Things one causes are often a result of the circumstances and sometimes it is difficult to keep on walking the right path. I often think of the words of Jesus: ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her’. It is easier to judge if you are in a more comfortable position, but what do you do in less favorable circumstances and are you then also capable of forgiveness?
I sometimes experience the things that Derrick describes in his blogs as very intense. The conditions in prison are harsh and the stories of rape, drug use, murder, no chances, sometimes make me feel hopeless. By paying attention to the layout of the blogs with matching (perhaps too) beautiful photos, I try to soften the content, although I am aware of the discrepancy between the image and the text. At the same time, this also shows how Derrick and I complement each other. There is great trust between us because we have the same goal:
To strive for justice and a more loving and understanding world.
Derrick L. Griffin/Johanna 22-01-2021