Saturday, October 3, 2015

Do The Right Thing

I believe most people were raised not only with the understanding of right and wrong, but also taught to 'do the right thing'.

As I sit here, outside a courtroom, waiting to be called to testify in a homicide case, I have time to think about the vast difference between knowing what's right and doing what's right.

Just over a year ago, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up witnessing what turned out to be a homicide.  When it happened, I knew the right thing to do was to stay and talk to the police. However, I was terrified.  I had been literally within feet of the shooter, the gun at one point had been pointed at me and in the moments after the shooting had taken place, I had lost track of where the shooter went.  I knew the right thing was to stay, yet the sheer terror of what happened pushed me to get the hell out of there as quickly as possible.

Yet here I am, outside a courtroom. Why?  Because I knew the right thing was to talk to the police. Granted, I left the scene, however, hours later I walked into a police station and told them I had witnessed the shooting.  Even though I knew it was the right thing to do, it wasn't easy because I knew what was likely to happen; that eventually I would end up in court as a witness.... and here I am.

What I have learned over the past year is it often takes courage to 'do the right thing'.  When the shooting happened there were easily 200 people around if not more; yet only 16 people gave statements to the police.   I get it.  It was surreal, it was terrifying, and giving a statement to the police puts you in a position where you are likely going to have to testify at a trial.  Not only that, there are other things to think about.  What about the risk?  By giving a statement to the police are you putting yourself or your loved ones in the cross-hairs?  How long before it goes to trial?  If it does, do you have testify?  How will it impact your life?  Will it ever really be over?  Trust me, I get it.  I've been there....I AM there.  Yet even with all these thoughts, knowing this was going to be impacting my life for a long time, I still gave the police a statement.

Why?  

Simply because I could have easily been killed that day. I know my family would hope there would be someone who would come forward with information.  Someone had died that day for whatever reason.  They had family and friends who loved them, and deserve some sort of closure. The only way that will happen is through the help of strangers who were there who were willing to provide statements to the police.

Doing the right thing isn't easy; in fact, in this instance, it has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  I may end up in court three more times before this is over and it may take until some time in 2017 before it's finally finished.  While at times I feel like my life is on hold until it's done, I can, at least, take comfort in the fact that while I may lose sleep over what I saw, at least I'm not losing sleep over not doing what I know what the right thing.  

As they say "This too shall pass".

1 comment:

Jeanne Paterson said...

And that is who you are and we love you for it.