It’s not every day that you hike the Stanford “Dish” with an ex-con http://dish.stanford.edu/.

Based upon her appearance, her demeanor, her intelligence and command of the English language, she is about the last person that you would expect to be locked up for a year in a federal pen in Washington State.

Let’s see. She worked for a Republican governor. She was a bank senior vice president. She is the mother of two college-age daughters, one going to a Catholic school in Southern California and the other to a football factory in the Deep South.

In pouring out her heart to me, she also shared about how she has learned about the consequences of choices she made that eventually led to waking up on the floor of a Seattle area prison. She recounted that she was operating from a place of stress and not knowing her true-self. She has a deep appreciation for friends, family and children who stood by her throughout this ordeal.

As a result of this experience, which she recounted with tears about two miles into our four-mile hike, she has definite feelings about law and order, crime and punishment, and most of all whether the United States is doing enough to prepare its nearly 2.4 million convicts (those eligible for parole) to reenter society.

Listening to her story and contemplating that she was never allowed outside for a year, I realized what it must mean to her to be able to once again walk four miles and admire the rolling hills around the Stanford campus. I will never take this experience for granted ever again.

More importantly, I came to the conclusion that she represents a classic man-bites-dog story. How could someone with so much going for her end up in such a bad place?

This experience gave her something that every blogger needs, standing. Isn’t “standing” a legal term? Sure is. http://www.lectlaw.com/def2/s064.htm

The legal right to initiate a lawsuit. To do so, a person must be sufficiently affected by the matter at hand, and there must be a case or controversy that can be resolved by legal action. There are three requirements for Article III standing: (1) injury in fact, which means an invasion of a legally protected interest that is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical; (2) a causal relationship between the injury and the challenged conduct, which means that the injury fairly can be traced to the challenged action of the defendant, and has not resulted from the independent action of some third party not before the court; and (3) a likelihood that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision.

Consider that my hiking friend wrote resumes for inmates at the federal prison. She was helping people in trying to not only reenter society, but maybe, just maybe, reclaiming their lives. Do you think she has the “standing” to comment with authority of recidivism issues? What about the right of ex-convicts, who have paid their debt to society, to participate in the electoral process? Or how about plight of children when mommy or most likely, daddy, are behind bars?

Just as the average citizen cannot file a suit against BP because they don’t like reading about the oil spill, bloggers really can’t gain traction commenting on subjects in which they have little or no personal experience. Yes, yes…everyone has First Amendment Rights to free and unfettered speech, but will anyone listen if you do not command your subject?

Conversely, if a blogger has a unique experience, a hard-earned perspective, an emotional tie to a topic, then it is almost imperative that she or he use the digital ones and zeroes to bestow this knowledge to help others. I am actively urging her to use her precious “standing” to tell her story and to provide her input into making the world a little better place.

Blogging should be more than “conversational marketing,” “thought leadership” and “branding” that PR agency types love to talk about and will charge $240 per hour (not including OOPS or out-of-pocket expenses). Blog posts should also be a source of knowledge, wisdom, advice and comfort for those who are facing the worst that life can offer and hoping for a better future.

Almost DailyBrett note: Today marks blog post #52. One year ago, I began this blog wondering whether anyone would ever read my meanderings, let alone comment on them. To my readers and respondents, thank you so much for your time and patience. I will continue to do my best to never let you down.

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