Gordon Graham’s relationship with The Pacific Institute spans more than four decades. “I had just gotten out of a correctional institution,” he said. “I’d been in multiple times over the course of 17 years and had adapted to the lifestyle. I was a five-time loser who had done time in solitary confinement.”
“The Pacific Institute affirmed the greatness they saw in me. In turn, I’ve been privileged to be able to do the same for inmates and people disconnected from society, law enforcement personnel, and workers and executives struggling to keep jobs in this country.”
“Whenever I was released from prison, I felt out of place, an alien in the outside world. I didn’t see change as possible and felt I was destined to die a ‘con.’ Freedom is not just being out of prison.” Gordon became a professional fighter on the outside. “A fight promoter told me about The Pacific Institute’s seminar. I didn’t have a clue about what a seminar was – I thought it was some kind of touchy-feely thing. They convinced me to go, and it changed the way I looked at my life. I felt like I could be free, that I could become an honest person. I recognized that my thoughts affect how I act. I wanted to get this information into prisons for other people like me.”
“Men and women in prison need to understand that in order to change the way you act, you have got to get a handle on how you perceive and think. It was like lighting a fire inside of me to help people get their lives together and become productive members of society, and I have the same focus today.” He began teaching the curriculum, first alongside Pacific Institute founder Lou Tice, and then with others. “There is a poem that I use when teaching a session: ‘Build a better world,’ said God, and I asked, ‘How? The world is such a vast place and so complicated now. I am small and useless, what can I do?’ God in all his wisdom said, ‘Just build a better you.’”
“Over the years, Lou Tice and I would travel to prisons all over the country and teach live – Lou would work with staff, I would work with the inmates.” Soon, the work expanded into unions, management and law enforcement training.“I spent hours and hours going through seminars with Lou and then doing live seminars on my own. I would translate it to the populations we were working with. I first sat through sessions that Lou taught, and then started teaching segments. Gradually, I could teach the whole curriculum live.”
Gordon turned his life around using the principles of The Pacific Institute. But as with others who have experienced the curriculum, he took it a step further, using his knowledge to then help others transform their own lives. He and his team have made tremendous contributions to helping individuals from all walks of life tap into their full human potential. For example:
The prison program has taught new ways of being, both in and out of jail.
“This education creates respect and reduces racial issues. Inside the prison, it has a major impact on safety and the way administrators and people who work in there deal with the population. When prisoners get out, they do so with a strong plan on how to manage their mind to get back to being productive members of society.”
Ex-convicts have turned their lives around.
“A former inmate in California – a former black guerrilla gang leader – turned his life around and eventually won the California peace prize. At his memorial, people from all over the world came, even president Clinton sent a representative, for this guy who had done the same kind of time, but also so much good.”
Cities have transformed themselves.
“East Palo Alto, Calif., was at one time the murder and drug capital of the U.S. A man named David Lewis and I took on the challenge of reducing violence in East Palo Alto. David was in and out of prisons, a former narcotics addict. The mayor asked for help with the drug problem. We brought influencers together, good and bad – people from the police department as well as people on parole. We took them through the curriculum. Gradually it influenced the culture and the dope dealers left. There was an 86% reduction in violence within two years.”
He transformed himself.
“I’m not very educated. Everyone I work with knows my background. I got my high-school diploma in prison. But I made major changes in my own personal life as a result of The Pacific Institute. Diane and Lou were absolute champions in helping me get my life back in shape.”