I’ve heard the speeches and read the words my whole life. “Be the change that you wish to see in the world” -Mahatma Gandhi. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” -Edmund Burke. “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything” George Bernard Shaw. I have always been quite proud to know the words, very self-righteous in my knowledge that I can do that: I can bring change. Not today, though. Today I am busy. Maybe tomorrow will be the day… No, that’s no good. My son has a doctor’s appointment. Well, next week then. Next week for sure.
How many of you have been that person? How many of you ARE that person? I am worse than that person. I am someone that trolls my neighborhood social media platforms, outraged and involved. Well, involved in a way that doesn’t require any more than sitting behind my computer or mobile device and chiming in on whatever topic is being posted about that day. Positions open on boards and committees, the call goes out for others to do their civic duty and be more active in progress and resolution, and I just sit there. Sure, I read. I “hmmm” and “hah” and talk to my husband about how now is the perfect time to be involved. I tell him “I could do that!” But I don’t. I never get involved. What am I so afraid of? Failure? That’s a damned sight better than never attempting anything at all. What’s stopping me? What’s stopping you?
My neighborhood began its week in shock and mourning. After spending Sunday with neighbors and friends, Kelcey “Skeet” Thornton was shot and killed on the street next to his home. No witnesses have come forward and very few details have emerged. He was a friendly, accepting man who I, unfortunately, never had the pleasure of meeting. His death has barely been a blurb in the news here in Atlanta, just a quick “there was a shooting today…” insert with less than a handful of sentences. This slaying comes on the heels of escalating crime and violence in our neighborhoods and nearby communities. It’s been less than two years since David McReynolds was murdered in a front yard on his way home from the corner store that he walked to so frequently to play his “lucky numbers.” Not even a year has passed since Patrick Cotrona and his roommate were held at gun point in an attempted robbery resulting in his death. Without provocation, Mr. Cotrona’s life was ended. Outrage, disbelief… ANGER. The public outcry has raged as residents, family members and friends grieve. After a while, it quiets down and, eventually, it’s put out of mind altogether.
If there was ever a time to get involved, to rally support and make a change, THIS IS IT. A man is robbed then shot in the head walking home from a Braves game. A woman gets out of her car in her own driveway and has a gun put to her head and her purse taken from her. Burglars are boldly invading homes fully knowing the residents are there. The threat is so real that social media is inundated with weekly- and sometimes daily– inquiries “Was that fireworks or gunshots?” How did this become the norm? When did this become okay? How long can good people simply stand by and allow our safety and the safety of those around us to be compromised again and again? How do we fight this crime wave? Where are the police and government officials? Where is the outcry from local media? To hell with outcry, where is the covereage? This man mattered. This murder is unacceptable. We cannot stand for it.