by Michael Webb
Back in the early 1970’s I watched my favorite TV show Emergency. As a child I dreamed of becoming a fireman just like the firemen on Emergency. Every time the bell would ring and the big red shining engine fifty-one would leave the station on a run, I would imitate it with my firetruck. Also, I pictured myself going to rescue a stranded person or putting out a fire.
As I grew older the innocence I once had as a child became lost. That was when my neighborhood became heavenly infested with drug dealers and violent gang members. Living in the neighborhood became an everyday struggle just to survive. The drug dealers began to fight one another over who’s going to control the drugs. Then the rival gang members started to do drive-by shootings and innocent people got shot or murdered.
Living in the inner city I felt like I was in the middle of two nations who were at war with one another. Sadly, I watched the helicopters flying over the crime scene while the ambulances and the police arrived late as always. Then saw a mother who just lost a child to gang violence scream a scream that no other mother should have to scream. Furthermore, the gang violence and drug dealing got so bad that I would see dead bodies lying in the middle of the streets, in vacate apartments, and in the alleys as well as seeing women being physically, sexually, and emotionally abuse by the one they love. I started to wonder if I was really safe in my own neighborhood and do the police even care.
Dealing with the traumatic death of my grandpa in my own life I felt like nobody gave a damn about me and what I was going through, so why should I care about them. So I became numb, heartless, desensitized to violence and I dehumanize other people, which made it easy for me to hurt them and not feel nothing about it. I exchanged pain for pain.
Today as a forty-five-year old young man I no longer believe and feel that way. Because I’m incarcerated for taking another human being’s life and being in Restorative Justice I realize the pain, grief, and suffering that a Mother, Father, Sister, Brother goes through after losing someone they love through violence.
Even though my grandpa is resting in peace I made a vow to my grandpa not to ever harm another human being again and I mean it from the heart.
Despite me not being able to become a fireman, I’m still able to rescue others and put out fire. This time I do it by sharing my story of ‘The Little Boy Who Lost His Dream.’