Tattoos on the Heart: Success Essay

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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…show more content…
Just like the questions Boyle proposed at the beginning of the chapter; there was difficulty in making a connection between the death of a child and the idea of success. With further evaluation it became evident that success was not in what happened, but what did not happen. It is safe to assume that the majority of people would consider the death of a child a failure, but the majority of people fail to look past this isolated event. The gang members were ready to claim vengeance as theirs and continue the cycle of pain, death, and violence. But because of a tragedy stricken mother the cycle was broken right then and there. The breaking of this negative downward spiral is a success in its own right. Another mother would not need to receive the news of her son being shot, another confused gang member would not end up in the penitentiary system, and another child would not be left fatherless. Just as every cloud has its silver lining; unfathomable sadness has positive aspects within itself. Mark Torres, S.J., beloved spiritual guide at Homeboy Industries, says, “We see in the homies what they don’t see in themselves, until they do” (Boyle 178). The gang members hold within themselves a poisonous shame that corrupts their sense of self. Without a sense of self it is tremendously difficult to move forward and people tend to stay stuck in what they know. Homeboy Industries

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