(Note: this blog was written nearly six years ago. It’s not all related to any of my circles; IT, content management, education, etc. It describes a defining event in my life, that I had been thinking about a lot recently as I have read a book that I had originally sent to my nephew. Also, I have a lot of cynicism, mostly about the building collapse in Bangladesh, that I need to let out; rereading and reposting this blog was rather cathartic).
Several Sundays ago, I was jarred awake by the telephone. My wife yelled upstairs for me to pick up the phone immediately. On the other end was my brother who called to inform me that our nephew Josh had been murdered after a fight broke out at a party he was attending.
A man left the party and returned with a 9-mm handgun and shot Josh in the back of the head. He died on the helicopter. The reaction that seemed to fit my anger, resentment, frustration, and immediate feeling of loss was “Awwwww Fuck!”
Josh had been no stranger to trouble and liked a good brawl, so I made some assumptions about the type of party he was at and his behavior that evening. Turned out that the party was for a long-time friend of the family who had just gotten her master’s degree.
Details are still hazy, but it appears that Joshua might not even been involved in the fracas that preceded the shooting. I just hope the shooter pleads guilty so both families can avoid a trial. However, there is always a sleazy attorney out there willing to give the Twinkee Defense a whirl.
Josh was a great kid. He was funny, athletic and exceedingly smart–other things that you’ve heard about a man who has died too soon, apply.
He was not a good man.
I’m not talking about the drug dealing. While I no longer have a need for dope, I think the straightest path to neutering the drug trade is to change our approach on the supply side; we should make the stuff–yes, coke, heroin, etc.–exactly as legal as Budweiser. Drug-related crimes would end the next day. The money that is currently spent on “the drug war” could be applied to the demand-side problems. Anyway…that could be another blog entry.
The problems I had were the fights, the threats, the bling, etc. The fact that his diction had degraded into a barely intelligible mutter of street babble. That he showed such disrespect for his parents, and that he blamed them that he never amounted to anything. And I kept hearing stories that he beat his girlfriends.
Not a good man.
He grew up in a family that had dearth of money and an abundance of kids. His parents spent far too much time trying to interact with god and not enough time trying to interact with their offspring. As happens in those situations, the kids are raised by the TV and subsequently by the neighborhood. Still, he had enough second chances, that he could blame nobody for his own path, but himself.
I attended the funeral in Florida. I cringed early because of the high level of phoniness and whistling in the dark. Several people spoke how Josh was “in the process of turning his life around,” and “on the verge of converting to Christianity.” The minister of the church sent out a message that it was never too late to turn one’s life around, because no matter how hopeless, or vile your life, all you had to do was to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior and you were guaranteed a place in Heaven. In fact he was sure that Joshua had done just that before he died.
Somehow I don’t think that theory of just-in-time repentance–which holds that you can mess up as much as you want as long as you make good before Judgment Day–really applies. It doesn’t seem like a man who was shot in the back of the head really had the time, or the wherewithal to repent his sins.
By their own standards, Josh is bound for Hell. Yet, they–the clergy, the parishioners– refused to admit that their own interpretation of the gospel had condemned him. Instead they kept crowing that Josh was a prince of God, that he was taken by Satan, because was “going to be a Christian leader” like his Biblical namesake.
It’s convenient that the players are allowed to change the rules of the game while its being played. I guess that’s how people of faith find comfort.
I didn’t know the bad-man Josh all that well. I have an abundance of vivid memories about the good kid. I will miss Josh every single day for the rest of my life.
There is no comfort for the faithless.