Monday, January 28, 2013

Be a Voice for Those Who Fall Silent

Act #28:   Speak up for the Isaiah's of the world.

If you Google the name Isaiah Welch, you will find genealogical stories of a decorated confederate captain, a professional resume for a coffee barista, and an athletic profile for a high school football player.  What you will not find is information on 21 year-old Isaiah Welch who is someone's son, someone's grandson, and who's lifeless body was found lying on the ground in front of an apartment complex in Richmond, VA on December 13th of last year.  This Isaiah was shot dead the week before Christmas, with shell casings scattered around him.  Before you put the Google test to action yourself, and before you begin subconsciously investigating and mentally interrogating:  Was he involved in illegal activity?  Did he provoke this violence?  Was he a gang member?  I challenge you (as I did myself), to continue asking yourself one final question:  Even if all the answers to these questions were yes, is Isaiah's life any less valuable than yours? 

I don't know the answers to any of these questions, but I can't help but think that they should be irrelevant as we consider that any life lost from senseless violence, is just that - senseless.

This past Friday, as I snuggled up on my couch with my son to watch Scooby Doo, relishing every second of our unexpected snow day together, my friend Kelly Smith, left her husband, two sons, and her job as a librarian at a local university, to drive across the country to Washington, DC, where she joined thousands of Americans in a march for gun control reform.  She joined educators, and celebrities, and moms, all calling for a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, as well as wider background checks on gun buyers. 

Ironic as it may seem, at the end of the day, this rally wasn't really about guns at all.  This was about Isaiah Welch. And the thousands of other forgotten victims of gun violence whose names were written on posters and distributed to ralliers that day.  This rally was about the value of human life.  It was about how we value human life.  It's so painfully easy for us to go about our comfortable routines and forget about the injustice and violence happening around us daily.  It's so easy to give up on the notion that there is anything at all that we can do to stop it.  Despite the demands in her own personal life, Kelly Smith didn't give up.  And she didn't forget.  Before she left, she sent a group text to a few of her girlfriends that read, "I'm doing this for our kids."

If a soft-spoken, 40-year old mother,  a small-town librarian who rarely calls attention to herself, can give a voice to someone who no longer has one....what's our excuse?  Thank you, Kelly for not letting us forget Isaiah.  And for reminding us of the power we have in our own voices, to change the world around us.

Everyone who wills, can hear the inner voice.  It is within everyone.  ~  Mahatma Gandhi


  1. Being someone who actually knows the true circumstances of this incident, just to add something you didn't mention, did it occur to you that the man who shot Isaiah did so in self defense, when a shotgun was pointed at him? So the question at the end of the day is, is it better to be an innocent, victim of a robbery and dead, or to say that the man who attempted violence and put a sawed off shotgun in a random man's face was shot in an act of self defense? This is who you should really be defending. What if it was your child that was the hapless, wrong place at the wrong time victim? It would definitely change your story wouldn't it? This is in fact a situation where you should investigate the facts, as you are in fact CONDONING gun violence with this ill informed blog.

    1. Dear Jessica, my friend was randomly given this poster with Isaiah's name on it and when writing this blog, I was reflecting on the overall impact of our culture of violence, and her commitment to leave her family to speak out against it. I'm so sorry that it came across as hailing Isaiah in any way, that was not my intention. It was to highlight my friend's commitment to this issue and the senseless loss of life due to gun violence. I'm so glad to hear that Isaiah's near-victim is safe and alive and I know that I would have probably done the same if I were in his/her shoes. I still can't help but to feel disheartened that we live in a society where we collectively accept violence as the only solution. I hope that the individual who was hurt by Isaiah finds healing and comfort in his/her journey to move beyond this traumatic experience. My heart goes out to him/her.

    2. Thank you for commenting back. I apologize if my comments came across as harsh, knowing that you randomly chose that name without knowing the story makes me feel better. I definitely see your point in the story, and unfortunately we do live in a world where violence is all too common. The individual in question is my husband, and he was walking our dogs and taking the trash out in our own neighborhood. He went through an extremely rough patch for a while, but anyone thay does not react that way after something terrible happens is a calloused individual, or lying! He will never forget it, and wishes every day Isaiah had lived, but sadly, had he not done what he had done, he would dead, I would be mourning a husband, and a man who had killed previously would still be preying ob innocents. We can only pray for more good people in the world, and for those who aren't to be few and far between!