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Mama Love insisted that if we were home that the boys would eat together.  Most nights she would eat with us, the exceptions being if we had pissed her off severely or if my father was home.  If he was home, then they would eat together in the living room or the study.  As a family we spent a lot of time around each other.  I can remember wondering why, when I went to my friend’s houses, why they didn’t eat together, or spend as much time around each other.  A big reason behind learning to cook was just wanting to be around Mama Love.  My younger brothers had no desire to learn; their interest in food began and ended with the placement of food on the table.  I selfishly wanted to,and got to, spend time with her that was ours alone.

When I first moved in with the Fortunes, there were already two older boys there, Nate and Mark.  Nate was long-term foster care – he had lived with the Fortunes for around eight years.  After I’d been there for a year, Nate graduated from high school and moved back with his biological family.  Mark was adopted by the Fortunes exactly a year before I was and was the oldest until he graduated and moved out (well, he stayed for a year after graduation, “finding his way” and all that.)  For about four years after I was the oldest son and with my father spending more time out of the house than in it, I was the de facto head of the household, with most if not all of the responsibilities that came with it.

Mama Love had over fifty foster kids during her time working with DHS, so I have spent more time wiping butts, giving baths and telling bed-time stories than some parents I know.  We used to get looks when we went out because of how many of us there were and the fact that some of us were lack and some of us were white.  My father is 6’6″, 280 pounds and black and Mama Love was a red-headed, short, white woman.  Mark was around 5’9″, stocky, almost pudgy white, with short, spiked hair.  I was and still am a 5’9″ dark, full-blooded Haitian, Leo (another adopted-brother) a 6’6″ light skinned half-Jamaican.  James, a biological Fortune, was young, white with bright red hair (think of the kid from “Jerry McGuire,”) glasses and freckles, while Tony (adopted brother) was young, half-black / half-white with green eyes.  I never looked at my upbringing as different.  It was just the way my family was.

My mother was the keeper of my secrets, hopes and dreams.  She was the one person in my life that has ever loved me unconditionally.  As my father and I were too similar to talk, share, or even like each other much, she was by default, my mother and father (him not being around much helped as well.)  While, in fairness, my adopted father did teach me some aspects of how to be a man, some lessons I needed (like to always take responsibility,)  other lessons that shaped me at an early age have left me wondering the cost, i.e. the ones about how men never show emotions like pain and hurt, or how men never cry and rarely apologize.  It was Mama Love who really taught me why it is important to be a man.  How it is your actions and not your age that make you a man, and that the two best things that I can do for my loved ones are as follows: firstly, if you really love someone then you are there for them at all times, not just when you’re needed, and secondly that it is more important to make sure loved ones have what they need rather than what they really want.

I remember walking into the house after school or practice (I played three sports: football, basketball and baseball, so almost every day after school I had practice or games and wouldn’t get home until four or five at the earliest) and being greeted by the smells of cooking food and the sounds of my brothers.  It was as if when I opened the door to my house I entered another world.  The sounds would hit me as soon as I opened the fake wooden-paneled door, depending on the time my brothers would be in the room on my right, “the library” (which is where we had desks and computers for homework or personal use) doing their homework quietly.  Well, it was supposed to be done quietly, but, when have boys ever been in a group and ever done anything quietly?  In fact, it was when we were quiet that we were up to something.  As soon as we stopped making noise you could count on Mama Love coming to investigate.

When I would shut the door the smell of cooking food would permeate my nostrils.  It was as if my house was a cocoon that opened itself up and embraced me with sounds and smells of love, like they were just waiting for me to come home and now my night, my family’s night and our house’s night was complete.

(More to follow.)

As I am,

Prince

danny.2014

Hey, ,readers.

This is all I got left to say about what one needs in order to be a philosopher.

E = Exploration.  So, what happens when we run into questions that we cannot answer, or if we are in a situation where it looks or feels hopeless?

For me, this is why Allah and hope are the most important things in my life.  Both my life and the history of the world are littered with mistakes and no-win situations, but this is only possible because we refuse to stay beaten and accept things the way they are.  Philosophy has taught me that I must continue to search for answers, yet understand that some questions cannot be answered, and a lot of situations are beyond my control.

That doesn’t mean that I must curl up and give up.  With hope and faith, I can and will not be broken by any circumstances that I face.  I have the tools to make any situation better, and to endure.  There is a reason why miracles are so special, it is because they are beyond human purview.  They are not meant to be understood or explained.  Yet are miracles possible without faith and hope?

In moments like this I think of the Serenity Prayer:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The study of philosophy has reinforced my faith and hope by making me realize how much I don’t know, and by extension how much humanity doesn’t know.

It is because of how small my world and life is; I have to be reminded just how strong and powerful hope and faith can be.

As I am,

Prince

danny.2014

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T = Thinking.

After research and reflection, here are what my underlying thoughts on philosophy are: if philosophy is about how to live by learning how to die, then not having hope or faith is a serious problem.  For as Bertrand Russell says in the Value of Philosophy: “It is exclusively among the goods of the mind that the value of philosophy is to be found, and only those who are not indifferent to these goods can be persuaded that the study of philosophy is not a waste of time.”

Philosophy is valuable because it exposes us to questions that might not have answers.  I ascribe to the thought that a major part of the value of philosophy is in its very uncertainty.  The man who does no know philosophy will be imprisoned by prejudices formed by common sense.  To this man the world becomes definite, obvious, and finite.  Everyday objects which need no questions, and what is not familiar is not welcome.

When we begin to philosophize we find that even the simplest questions can lead to problems that may not be solved.  There cannot be a value on one asking questions in order to find one’s answers for oneself, not settling for what we are being told.

As I am,

Prince

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E + Empirical Recall.

It is the conversations that we have had in philosophy class here at M.S.P., that have shown me why hope and faith are so important to a philosopher.  The class that we have here is big, so there are a lot of diverse opinions.  We have several different religions represented as well as atheists. Surprisingly, it is the conversation with the atheists that has shown me the value of belief.

To a believer, God is all-powerful and the ultimate owner of the Heavens and Earth, yet, we Muslims believe that Allah has given us free will so that we can choose whether or not we want to follow His mandates (the Quran) or if we even believe in Him.  The firm foundation of this belief allows for the belief in miracles.

There are several conversations that stand out as reinforcement for my argument.  The first was that when we were talking about hope, several of my classmates have said that hope is a painful subject that they don’t believe in.  They referred to the myth of Pandora. opening the box and all of the greatest evils escaping except love.  They have used the fact that it was included as an “evil.” To them hope is a double edged sword, because as great as it is when it comes to fruition, it can be just as devastating when it fails.  To my classmates it is better not to have hope then to take the chance that you will be disappointed in this belief.

As a Muslim, I do no suffer from these views.  When talking about the future, I always add Insha’Allah, which means, “God willing.”  If my hope does “come true,” then it is not God’s will.  While I may be disappointed that what I wanted did not happen, I am not unduly emotional.  So, I look at hope as a vital important part of my life.  This does not mean that I still don’t strive to do the best of my ability to achieve whatever goal I have in mind, but if it is not in Allah’s plans for me, who am I to complain?

The second discussion was trees.  For example, were trees designed to give us oxygen, or was that just a useful by-product of their function?  Those that don’t believe a God believe it is just a coincidence.  I wonder if they are even aware of what they are missing.  Far be it for me to tell another person what to believe, but it strikes me as trying to explain colors to somebody who is blind.

As I am,

Prince

danny.graduation

Dear Circle:

On believing in either hope or God.

R = Responding instinct. To me they are one and the same because I believe that hope comes from Allah. This hope can be found in my favorite Surah (94): Bismallah Arakman Araheem.
1. Have we not expanded thee thy breast?
2. And removed from thee thy burden
3. That which did gall thy back?
4. And I reeaised hight the esteem in which thou art held?
5. So verily, with every difficulty there is relief.
5. Verily, with every difficulty there is relief.
7. Therefore, when thou aart free from thine immediate task, still labor hard,
8. And to thy Lord turn all thy attention.

I must admit to being shocked when I first realized the importance of hope and religion in philosophy. I thought that it was something that I brought to th3e equation, rather than a vital part. I feel a vast sense of relief that it goes hand in hand because I can’t not separate myself from my faith. As I have grown as a man my views and beliefs have simplified, which has allowed me to stop putting so much time and energy into things that I cannot control or sometimes even influence. Epicureanism preaches the deliberate, continually renewed choice of relaxation and serenity, combined with a profound gratitude toward nature and life, which constantly offers us joy and pleasure, if only we know how to find them.
As I am,
Prince

danny.graduationPrince and his date, Samantha, at the Gardiner High Senior Prom

“The Philosopher needed to be trained not only to know how to speak and debate, but also to know how to love.” – Piere Hadot

The philosophers of old were not concerned with ready-made knowledge, but with imparting that training and education that would allow their disciples to “orient themselves in thought, in the life of the city or the world.

When I first started this class I thought that I was ready to be a philosopher, that I would soon be philosophizing with the best of them. I was under the mistaken impression that Professor Bill would give me some magical key and that I would soon unlock the potential to reason and to think. Instead, Professor Bill made me stop and slow down. He showed me that the best thing I can do is to ask questions.

As Plato says, “The un-examined life is not worth living.” I have spent months and years in solitary confinement and have spent a lot of this time “examining” my life. I thought that this meant I was ready to be a philosopher, but I was wrong. The first day Professor Bill asked us two things that I will never forget. The first was that if we could not answer the question of why suicide was not a viable option for us then we were not ready for philosophy. [now, before you (the reader) ask what the hell kind of class is this? Relax. I will explain why that question is important in another letter, so stick with me.]

The second important thing he told us is that Philosophy is about learning how to die. As a Muslim, both of these statements immediately made me think about Allah and my relationship with Him. Suicide is not allowed in Islam and the vast majority of Muslims will automatically think about Allah when the subject of death is broached. For this last critical reflection I will, in my next letter, talk about one of the most important lessons I learned in class: my belief that in order to be a philosopher, you must either believe in either hope, or in God.

As I am,

Prince

Fortune, Daniel

What’s going on?  How is everyone?  I know that I told you that I would writ once a month just to let you know that I’m alright and give you guys an update on what’s been going on with me and I haven’t.  I don’t really have any good excuse.  things have been kind of hectic the last couple months and especially the last couple of weeks.  It’s finals time and I just finished writing all of my papers.  Whew – I’m glad that they'[re pretty much over.

So, I’m going to get right to the elephant in the room.  I can’t imagine that you guys are unaware of the court’s decision to deny my appeals and all the news coverage that I’ve been getting in the last couple of months.  Yes, I got shot down but no, it’s not my final appeal.  I don’t know why the DA said that it was my final appeal.  That is far from the truth.  In fact I was thinking about writing to the Kennebec Journal and talking about a lot of information that Betty Adams gave that was incorrect.  I wrote the letter, typed it up and everything and I just haven’t sent it out.  To be honest, I”m a little nervous, every time they put me in the papers or on the news I feel like shit, but at the same time I know that it is something that is needed.  I know, I know, you guys are probably like, “What are you talking about?”  WEll, let me explain.

Right now for all intents and purposes I am a political prisoner.  They, the State and everybody involved know that I should not be doing all this time.

[Editor’s note: Sentencing guidelines in Maine: Manslaughter 1–20 years, Felony Murder (killing someone while in the commission of a crime) 1-30 years, and for regular ol’ Murder, it’s Life without parole or no less than 25 years. Snax.]

They know that I should get re-sentenced at the very least and really should get a new trial, but as long as public opinion is on their side and there is nothing making them fix the situation, they won’t.  Look and what happened with my man Tony Sanbourn.  He did 27 years and they know that he didn’t do it.  It took his girl staying on them to make them admit that the witness had lied and look at the rest of the shit that is coming to light.  for me, I don’t have that right now; I don’t have a “someone.”.  They can trash me in the newspapers and on the news and it is what it is.  But, at the same time I know that I have people who believe in me out there and the more time that goes by and the more you see people getting way less time for murder and all that, people will start asking questions.  Like, why is Fortune swerving life sentences for accomplice liability?  Or, when the news reporter says that Leo admitted to the attacks but is doing fifty years.  anyways, though, yes, I am OK. Yes, I was hurt and upset when I heard about it.  Yes, I should have reached out to you guys and let you guys know what was going on , but sometimes it’s hard to explain what it is I’m going through when it is what I’ going through.  I still know that I am coming home but it is not going to be right now.  All I can do is to continue to grow and make the best of my time here.  That means concentrating on school and working every day to be the best me that I can be.

On that note, school is pretty much done for the semester.  Like I mentioned earlier, I just finished writing a sixteen page paper on genocide for my history class.  Genocide is a crazy subject; it’s hard to wrap my mind around wanting to annihilate and entire race, or group of people.  Yet, history is littered with genocides.  The two that I chose to wrote about were the ones in Armenia and Rwanda.  Did you guys know that in Rwanda almost a million people were killed in around 100 days?  That’s crazy and the US did nothing.  The movie “Hotel Rwanda” is base don what happened in 1994.  I have ti watch it again.  As for the Armenian genocide, while Roosevelt was the President, he said that the Armenian genocide was the worst crime of the whole war.

My other class was philosophy.  Yeah, that’s right – I’m now a philosopher.  Haha!  Nah, it was a really good class.  I learned just how much I don’t know.  The best thing I learned was the need to ask questions.  There cannot be a value on one asking questions in order to find ones answers for oneself, not settling for what we are being told.  So what happens when we run into questions that we cannot answer,m or if we are in a situation where it looks or feels hopeless?  For me this is why Allah and hope are the most important things in my life.  Both my life and the history of the world are littered with mistakes and “no-win” situations, but this is only possible because we refuse to stay beaten and accept things the way they are.

Philosophy has taught me that I must continue to search for my answers yet understand that some questions cannot be answered, and a lot of situations are beyond my control.  That does not mean that I must curl up and give up.  With hope and faith I can and will not be broken by any circumstances that I face.  I have the tools to make any situation better and endure.  There is a reason why miracles are so special.  It’s because they are beyond human purview.  They are not meant to be understood or explained.  Yet are miracles possible without faith and hope?

In moments like this I think on the Serenity Prayer: “Lord, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”  This class has reinforce my faith and hope by making me realize how much I don’t know by extension how much humanity doesn’t know.  It is because of how small my world and life is that I have been reminded just how strong and powerful hope and faith is.

Alright, I’m about to wrap this up.  Know that  you  guys stay on my mind.  If you ever need to vent on paper, or need advice, or if any of you are even considering making a bad choice, please drop me a line first:

M.S.P.                                                                                                                                                          Daniel Fortune, #86753                                                                                                                           807 Cushing Road                                                                                                                                    Warren, Maine 04864-4600

Remember – I believe in y’all.

As I am,

Prince

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Daniel Fortune sits in Kennebec County Superior Court during his sentencing hearing in June 2010 in Augusta.

Posted Oct. 12, 2011, at 5:57 p.m.

LISBON, Maine — Daniel Fortune is the first person in Maine sentenced to life in prison for attacking people who did not succumb to their injuries.

He was convicted by a jury of maiming a Pittston father and daughter in a May 27, 2008, home invasion and machete attack considered to be one of the most heinous crimes in the state’s history.

[Editor’s note: Daniel’s co-conspiritor and foster-brother, Leo Hylton was  responsible for the actual machete attack; Daniel did not participate.  His foster-brother agreed to testify against Daniel for a better deal.  Daniel, the older participant, who had known his victims previously,  and who refused to “rat” was considered the leader, and for what ever reason has paid this price. – Snax]

The legal questions the court will consider include whether there was sufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that premeditation and extreme cruelty were proven on the aggravated attempted murder count. Justices also will review for the first time whether a judge can impose a life sentence when a victim did not die.

On June 24, 2010, Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy sentenced Fortune, now 23, of Augusta in Kennebec County Superior Court to two concurrent life sentences,  according to a previously published report. He was convicted by a jury on May 14, 2010, after a trial held at Somerset County Superior Court in Skowhegan.

[Editor’s note: actual murderers, in the State of Maine get off easier than that.  In Maine someone convicted of Manslaughter will serve from 1–20 years, for Felony Murder (killing someone while in the process of committing another crime) they’ll serve from 1-30 years and for plain old Murder, it’s Life without parole or no less than 25 years.  Daniel didn’t kill, or even attact anyone, and again, he was given two life sentences.  I guess there are different sentencing guidelines in Maine when black go after well-connected and monied white politicians. – Snax

Fortune’s roommate and foster brother Leo R. Hylton, now 21, participated in the machete attack that left William Guerrette Jr. and Nicole Guerrette, then 10, close to death and permanently injured.

The attack on the Guerrette family came six months after Fortune stole a safe from the Guerrette home containing $111,000 worth of property, including $30,000 in cash, according to previously published reports. Fortune and Hylton, according to briefs filed in the appeal, went to the home armed with a machete and a long knife to keep William Guerrette from testifying against Fortune.

[Another Editor’s note: Fortune went to the Guerette’s home to collect drug money owed to Leo Hylton, not to try and silence anybody. – Snax]

Both men were charged with aggravated attempted murder, attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault, robbery, burglary and conspiracy to commit robbery. Hylton, who testified against Fortune, pleaded guilty to all but the aggravated attempted murder charge.

Hylton was sentenced by Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills on Feb. 26, 2010, in Kennebec County Superior Court to 90 years in prison with all but 50 suspended. [Editor’s note: pretty sweet deal, Leo. – Snax.]

Fortune’s attorney Arnold Clark of Waterville said Wednesday that he expects the justices will ask quite a few questions about the life sentences imposed.

“Just recently there have been sentencings in a couple of double homicide cases in Maine where life sentences were not imposed,” said Clark, who was not Fortune’s trial attorney. “In this case, nobody died. That’s a big difference legally. Of course, there is continuing trauma that goes along with surviving but that’s a different thing than murder in the eyes of the law.”

 

 

Clark argued in his brief that Murphy gave “insufficient weight” to Fortune’s age, which judges are obligated to take into consideration when fashioning a sentence. Fortune was 22 when he was sentenced and 20 at the time of offense.

“Undoubtedly, the seriousness of the impact of a life sentence on an offender is inversely related to the age of the offender,” Clark wrote. “A life sentence is the ‘harshest penalty’ available in the State of Maine. The impact a life sentence imposes on a 22-year-old offender is significantly more serious than the impact of a life sentence imposed on a 62-year-old.”

Clark argued in his brief that Murphy should have imposed a period of imprisonment and a period of probation as her colleague did in Hylton’s case.

“The court’s failure to mitigate the maximum sentence downward to a term of years constitutes an abuse of discretion.”

I am my own worst enemy.

For most of my life I have denied this and have been okay with not examining the reasons for my troubles.  Today I have decided that enough is enough, starting today I will be my best friend, I will love myself, an I will believe in myself.  I know, I know I am not saying anything new or unknown.  To quote the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” but this has not always been the case.  However, recent events in my life have made it abundantly clear that now is the time for change.

I have always looked down on people who have wanted to “recreate” or “reinvent” themselves.  In my mind if you didn’t like a part of who you are then you should have never let it become habit.  It is extremely ironic that I now find myself in situations where I must do the same.  For years I have allowed negative, damaging thoughts, emotions and actions in my life because I believed it was necessary to survive in the situations I found myself in.  Dr. Joe Dispenza has shown me how wrong I was.

“Your personality creates your personal reality.”

Dr. Dispenza says in his movie, Aligning your thoughts and feelings for a New Destiny.  The realization that my thoughts and feelings created my reality was something that I knew but have never explored.  Exploring this has forced me to remove the last of my blinders.  Now, more than ever, I can look around and see my present circumstances for what they are.

My present circumstances are the biggest and best opportunity I have even had to change.  I will no longer be who I think I have to be or who others want me to be.  I will become the man who I want to be.  Recognizing the truth in what Dr. Dispenza says has shown me that I have had and will always have the power to do better.  Dr. Dispenza also speaks about how in every case (that he studied) in which people made a miraculous recovery from a disease or illness, they surrendered themselves to a higher power.  This resonates with me because the idea of surrender has been the best and yet most difficult issue of my faith.

As a Muslim the idea of Allah being in control, wanting what is best for me, and not giving me more problems/pain than I can handle is a balm to my soul. Yet, I struggle with the concept that in order for Allah to be in control, I cannot be. The reality that he knows what is best for me and what is right for me stares me in the face every day.  I can no longer continue to fight it.  I have not demonstrated a love for myself or that I want what is best for myself, because who in their right mind would make the choices I have or want to be where I am?  Yet all of my thoughts have led me to this place.

I am now ready to embody the change that is  necessary for me to be who I should be.  Allah has blessed me with many talents and abilities that I have run from or misused for the majority of my life.  I am done with being somebody who has wasted potential; instead I will be somebody who has realized their potential.  I will not continue to be anything other than the best possible version of myself.  One of my favorite sayings is, “Our biggest fear is not the darkness, it is our light… for who are we to be beautiful?  Who are we to be powerful beyond all belief?”  I am paraphrasing a Nelson Mandela quote.  The events, conversations and lessons of this last year have led me to a point where I understand that without some serious painful introspection I will never stop makin the same mistakes.  It is not enough to not want to make them.  I have to understand why I am making them in the first place.

Starting this process has been eye-opening.  I will probably be doing it for the rest of my life, because once I started I do not wish to stop.. It has brought a clarity into my life that is much need.  I could wax poetically about all of the insights I have gained, but I won’t.  I will instead let them speak for themselves.  I am not the same person that I was last year, last month, last week or even yesterday.  It is my firm belief that these changes I have made and will continue to make will be apparent to all in my life.  It has been a long time coming but I am finally okay with being me.  As l as I am continually striving to be the best version of myself.  Some days I will make mistakes, fall or revert to old habits, but I will never stop picking myself up and trying for better.

As I am,

Prince

prince

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Political Prisoners

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