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We Are the World, Post 1, and Luis J. Rodriguez


Quote of the Day: We need the World first! Luis J. Rodriguez at his poetry reading at Central Lakes College (CLC) in Brainerd, MN on Wednesday, March 29, 2017. If everyone in the world is taken care of, we’re taken care of, too. 

I have joined a blogfest called We are the World where bloggers from around the world post on the last Friday of each month something positive that is happening in the world. It seems most fitting to begin this journey with a reflection on the powerful reading by Luis J. Rodgriguez, poet, columnist, recovering addict, peace activist, community servant, father, grandfather, and great grandfather, and lover of words. He says, “You are all poets. Poetry is everywhere, in everything. You need to find the music in words.” He stood on the stage of your little community college and gave us a mountaintop experience. He spoke from the heart. He read his poetry to us with passion and emotion. He shared bits of himself with us, and read our emotions on our faces. He began the reading with poems about women who have been influential in his life. He went on to talk about his addiction, his rock bottom, his awakening, and his recovering. He said, “Do what you love, and never stop doing it.”

Luis J. Rodriguez speaking at Central Lakes College in Brainerd, MN

Luis Rodriguez is a man with a turbulent past. By age 16, he was addicted to heroine, was a member of a gang in Southern California, and locked up in a cell next to Charles Manson. It was during his terrifying days in prison that he began to write. He’d always been the odd gang member who liked to read, who wrote in his notebook, who saw the world and needed a way to express himself. He says, “I didn’t know what I was doing, but I wrote.” Eventually a friend sent one of his poems into a contest, where he got honorable mention, $250, and a plane ticket to Berkeley where he met and heard some of the poets he most admires. 

You can read more about Rodriguez’ reading at CLC in the article in the Brainerd Dispatch.

Now, Rodriguez runs a community library, especially serving youth in LA. He does writing workshops with men who are incarcerated, and fights for humanitarian causes. You can learn more about the man and his positive impact on his community and the greater world at the website for Luis Javier Rodriguez.

Here is his Ted Talk.

I’ll leave you with the five points of advice he gives to anyone who will listen:

1. Get help. Especially if you have an addiction. Find or create a healthy community.

2. Find your passion, your art, your genius, and do it!

3. Find a cause bigger than yourself.

4. Find a spiritual path. And, it’s not the same for everybody. In AA and Al-Anon, we call it a “Higher Power.” What is your “Higher Power,” what/who is calling you?

5. Learn to own your life.

This post is part of the We Are the World Blogfest. The co-hosts this month are: Belinda Witzenhausen, Lynn HallbrooksSimon Falk, Sylvia McGrath, and Damyanti Biswas

You can join this Blogfest by visiting Damyanit Biswas’ We Are the World Blogfest page. 

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: What is your answer/direction to any of Rodriguez’ five points above? What are some good things that are happening in your community?

  1. He turned it around for himself and now for others. He is using his gift well.

  2. This man’s tale reminded me of Maya Angelou… a troubled beginning which had a lot of wrong turns but eventually blossomed into a wonderful inspirational life.

  3. Luis is truly an inspiration. He’s been through a lot but is sharing his gift to help others. Thanks for sharing. #WATWB

    Belinda Witzenhausen~Writer, Creativity Coach & Artist

  4. What an epic story of transformation! Thanks for sharing this, Mary– the more posts I read like this one, the better I feel about working on the WATWB–there’s hope and goodness in all of us.

  5. It’s inspiring to hear this kind of turn-around story and to be able to celebrate his contributions to the world.

  6. Wow! Luis could be an inspiration for many who went down a path that was dangerous. He can show that you can find your way back if you truly wish to do so. Thanks so much for sharing and being a part of #WATWB

  7. When I read that he was locked up next to Manson… *shivers*
    This story proves that there is ALWAYS hope for those who have made poor decisions and have gone down the wrong path in life.

    It’s been such a blessing to read these WATWB posts!

  8. Deborah Jacobs says:

    What a beautiful post, Mary, in honor of a fine poet and better man. It was a riveting and inspiring hour and I’m so glad I was there. I love that he is such a man of service. He does so much. One comes away wanting to do more.

  9. I love his story, his passion, his no nonsense honesty. And …. he’s a poet. I’m always looking for new poets. Thanks so much for sharing and for joining our Blogfest 😀 Simon’s Still Stanza #WATWB

  10. Wow! What a story! I love to read about people who had such a negative start turn it all around and are now giving back to the communities that almost took their lives. What an inspiration! “Do what you love and never stop doing it” really spoke to me. So did “Find your passion/art/genius and do it!” I’ve been really pruning from my own creative life lately. This came as a timely reminder that in order to succeed, we really do have to CHOOSE the thing that is calling us and let it guide us. We have to throw ourselves in all the way, not just put our toes in the shallow end. Thanks for this lovely post, Mary!

  11. That is indeed so inspirational! May he flourish with his good deeds.
    Thank you so much! Team #WATWB

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