The other day my son, Justin, was walking down Main Street in Newark when he saw two young men come out of a store and stuffing a sweatshirt into a backpack. He thought they looked a little suspicious, so he decided to follow them and see what they would do next.
Justin watched as they two walked into another store and one of the men took a box from a shelf and slid it into his pocket.
That’s when Justin confronted the two men, one ran, the other froze.
Justin told the one left to get on his phone and call his friend back, which he did.
Then Justin took the two to the sales counter and asked them to return the box, they did and apologized.
Justin then walked them back to the first store, called the manager and had the men return the sweatshirt.
I contacted the owner of the second store, who wrote back to me:
“the young girls who work for us were amazed that he would do what he did. The girls said that he not only confronted them but forced them (through an authoritative voice) to come back into the store to return the items and then he got them to go back to [the first store] to do the same. You must be a very proud father and have obviously taught him to speak up when he sees something wrong.”
Yes, I’m proud – for several reasons:
First, Justin did not jump to conclusions, he investigated before taking action
Second, he took action. Really, how many people see something wrong happening and choose not to take action?
Third, he took appropriate action – he didn’t turn the situation into a physical confrontation, simply pointed out that these gentlemen needed to do the right thing and helped them towards that goal.
When Christopher Hitchens passed away last week, his brother wrote about Christopher’s courage – saying that real courage can always communicate itself to others.
So, I tell you that to tell you this:
You can make a difference
The last thing we need in the world is people who see something wrong and shrug their shoulders saying, “what can you do?”
What we desperately need is people who realize that no matter what their position, no matter what their title, they can do something to change things for the better.
You can suggest changes to a broken system
You can confront injustice
You can help a generation become more
It won’t be easy
It probably won’t happen overnight
It could get messy
You can do it!