Sunday, March 8, 2009
One Year Later....
The day has long passed but the memory lives on. 3-5-08. For me, it was the day that I, as well as thousands of young people, realized something that we probably already knew but readily rejected. It was the fact that we are not invincible. Though the world would have us to think so. That not even the purest deeds or kindest heart or profound likability or even the safest neighborhoods can keep us from evil or the idea that humanity is liked in one beaded string of individual fates. The overlap of such fates can be devastating and baffling for a person, for a family and for a community.
No, this wasn't something that I learned in Missouri as a community organizer. But rather it was learning of the murder Eve Carson, known to many as the student body president at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Both Georgia peaches, summer 03 Governors school attendees, students at public North Carolina Universities and student body presidents. Eve and I were a lot alike. Maybe that's why her life, cut so short, touched me so deeply. Or maybe it was because, more significant than our similar lives, was our shared desire to change the world.
While every comment that I've read about the articles covering this tragedy, have bounced between "The world has lost a truly great person" and "I'm sick of this. No one would care about her death if she weren't a pretty, blonde, white girl at a high-ranking institution." My only response is...I guess you had to know more about her than these limited details. Because honestly, to know her, would minimize these things. Sure, these things made the story of her murder more sensational and attractive to mainstream media, but it has little to do with the reason why, one year later, people carry our her legacy in so many different ways. Service projects, scholarship funds, cross country trips to support the causes that she lived her life around. This legacy embodied the idea that "the best use of one's life is for a cause that will outlast it" (William Outling).
So, in the end, what will our lives mean? It is my sincere hope that my life and your life mean as much to people as Eve Carson's did. Her life did not cure all of the ills of the world or put evil at bay, but it did strengthen many people's desire to do good. To spend ones life like a currency of hope and restoration to the world. I don't just write this entry as an ode to a friend or to a leader, or to a victim of a violent crime, nor do I wish to spend time itemizing her good deeds or enumerating the lives that she touched; I write because her life lifted up a standard, of excellence, of humility, of a life that was poured out fully in service to others. So, one year later, I choose not to focus on the horrific act that took her life, but on the amazing things that have happened since in the communities where she lived. And that's the circle of life I suppose, choosing how to respond to life and why. Eve's death was a wake up call to all who knew her and many who didn't. One year later, it's a call to action. Thank you Eve. Rest in peace.