|Birds at Bond Park; Cary NC|
I’ve been part of a discussion on a news article I was reading earlier about a group of young men beating an older man to death for what amounted to about $3 in his pocket. And I wanted to tell a story with a meaning behind it. So deal with me for a moment.
Several years ago I lost a good friend. He was a young man I’d met in high school through some other friends. We remained friends through college, and the last time I saw him was at my college graduation. He popped out of the crowd to give me a high five and quickly introduce me to his new fiance before the procession line pushed me forward and he blended back into the crowd. I had no idea I would never see him again.
Jamal was the type of friend who if I hadn’t spoken to him in twenty years and he suddenly showed up on my front porch needing a place to crash for the night, I would have gladly opened my door and let him in… and vice versa. He was hard working, extremely intelligent, a top notch artist, and we used to jam together on the guitars I owned at the time. He always used my Jackson Kelly guitar. And he was far better on it than I was, although he encouraged me to no end.
Toward the end of Jamal’s college years, he had taken an internship. He was returning home one night at around 10:00, and when he stepped off the bus a man confronted him. With a .22lr pistol, he held Jamal until he’d emptied his pockets… $2 was all he had. So the man fired one round into Jamal’s neck and ran off with that $2.
I lost a wonderful friend that night… his fiance lost the love of her life… and his parents lost their child. All for $2.
But no, this gets much worse.
Jamal now had a bullet wound in his neck, but he wasn’t dead. He was too weak to stand and get help. So he stayed where he fell. Where he fell was in front of a car lot that was very well lit even though it was closed, and it was on a major road in a city. There were lots of apartments around, windows facing this lot, and plenty of people traveled this road by car, bus, bike, and foot at all hours of the day and night.
He was found the next morning by someone from the car dealership when they came in to open up at 7:30 in the morning. At this point, Jamal was dead. The car dealer called the police who came out to collect the body.
The autopsy said Jamal had actually survived for several hours after being shot. When I heard that I realized… if someone had bothered to call 911, Jamal would be alive today. They didn’t even need to give their name… all they had to do was take the time to make a phone call. Someone heard the shot. Someone saw him laying on the sidewalk bleeding. He was lit up, so he couldn’t have been missed. And it was a block away from his home, so odds are, someone who saw it probably even knew exactly who he was. They probably saw him come and go from that bus stop every day.
What has happened to us as a people that we can’t take the time out? How can we rationalize letting someone die because the cops might want to question us about what we saw? How can we rationalize not wanting to get involved when it means a young man has to die?
After all these years – and it has been a few – I am still angry about this. I am angry at the robber who took Jamal away from me and the endless stream of people who loved him… not to mention the man he was going to become, because believe me, the world is much worse off for having lost Jamal. But I find myself angrier at those who saw it and did nothing. He may have technically been killed by a robber, but those people who couldn’t be bothered killed him, too. They could have save a life and moved on with their own. He didn’t have to die that night, but because we as a people are more concerned with how it will effect our own lives, he did.
I found this story has profoundly changed my life. I don’t trust people, I never did. I certainly don’t expect people to help me when I am in trouble, and that is a sad feeling. But it has made me aware that, since no one else is going to help me, I need to help myself. And because of that I have worked toward becoming as independent as I possibly can be. And I am shocked when someone does offer their help.
In turn, I offer my help. I call the cops when I see something is not right. I have stopped at 3:00 in the morning to assist a woman with a car that was wrecked when she hit a deer on a back road that was poorly lit. I stop and ask people if they are alright if something seems off with them.
This is something we all need to try and do. Just call 911 if something seems off, send the cops to help if you can’t stop or are afraid to. I know we can’t trust people we don’t know, but we all have cell phones now. It doesn’t take much effort or take much time to call 911 and tell the dispatcher that we saw a stranded car on the road or someone on the street appears to need help of some kind, can someone come out and look. You may never know the outcome of that call, but remember Jamal when you pass someone in need. If someone had called 911 anonymously he’d probably still be alive today. He’d be in his low to mid 30s today instead of in a grave. You could make that happen for someone else. You never know what is happening in that stranded car on the road, or why that person is laying on the sidewalk. Make the call. You don’t have to do anything else but make that call. It could save someone’s life.
Current Residence: The South|
Favourite genre of music: I listen to everything, mostly country these days, though
Favourite style of art: photography
Operating System: Windows Vista, Browser is Opera
MP3 player of choice: iTunes, iPod Touch
Shell of choice: I dunno, maybe the fighting conch shell
Wallpaper of choice: I'm taken by dots...
Skin of choice: I kind of like my skin, it's pale, but it covers my bones and organs, so my skin is good
Favourite cartoon character: My mom, she's a real character *snicker*
Personal Quote: "Fight for your opinions, but do not believe they contain the whole truth or the only truth.&am