“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by 'I was hungry and you gave me food to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.' Hungry not only for bread - but hungry for love. Naked not only for clothing - but naked for human dignity and respect. Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks - but homeless because of rejection." Mother Teresa
As I heard, again, of another shooting in Malden, I eagerly scanned the news for any information I could find, wanting to ensure that it did not happen near the schools my children were in. Whew! They were safe; hence, my tiny world was perfect again. As the day progressed and I finally had a few moments, I meandered over to the comments section of the Malden Patch. I clucked and tisked like an old hen as I silently nodded my head in agreement at some of the people that were voicing their opinions in regards to that crime and previous crimes that have been committed against my beloved City of Malden. Some of the finger pointing made sense and the “City” is most assuredly to blame for all of this crime. Right?
As the hours ticked by, I soon learned that Shawn Clark, a husband, a father, a son, a friend, had passed away from his wounds. Slowly I watched as the proverbial finger slowly turned from others and towards me. What did I do? I was not involved. I did not do anything! As if a brick dropped on my head, I understood in that one moment. My face heated in embarrassment and shame as my internal voice agreed. That is correct, Kelly. You did nothing.
In that very moment I realized I needed to apologize to you all for many things. So, to everyone in the City of Malden, I am sorry.
I apologize for my indifference, as each crime took place. Because it was not against “my family”, I did nothing.
I apologize for not taking the time to attend the meetings of the City officials in trying to get residents to come together and take some sort of action, because Lord only knows, I didn’t even try to come up with a plan of my own. Again, I did nothing.
I apologize for my complacency, as a Malden resident and voter. I have a say in how this beloved city is run, yet I did nothing.
I apologize for walking down the street and not picking up the trash as I go, allowing my City streets to remain cluttered and filthy. Instead of taking pride in where I live, I have chosen instead to blame others, walk by and do nothing.
I apologize for not setting a positive example to our youth, through my own actions, words and attitudes - choosing instead to do nothing.
I apologize to all of the small businesses in Malden, for not patronizing your establishments more and getting to know you better. For you, I did nothing.
I apologize to everyone that I have passed walking down the streets in Malden, avoiding eye contact with you. Making excuses and justifying my behavior because you are strangers to me, you look different or you did not look back; again, I did nothing.
I can’t fix the past but going forward, I promise to take responsibility and accountability for my actions. Instead of judging or placing blame, I will look for the perfection in each of you and ask that you do the same with me. Then I will ask, “what can I do to help”, instead of asking or expecting others to do all of the work.
We all look to the outside world, and eagerly place blame on the senseless violence that is surrounding us. Maybe, and this is just a thought, we need to first look within ourselves and our own families and ask, “are we doing enough to improve who we are and who are children are”……and if we work harder on ourselves, maybe that would be the first step in improving what is going on around us.
Kelly Ilebode is a Malden resident and published author. If you would like to visit her personal site, you may go to www.kellyilebode.com.