I Will Not Demean Them

Laura Nieman ’18, Pre-Nursing, is Secretary of the UMBC Running Club and a test proctor for UMBC Student Support Services.

Laura Nieman 2It always shocks and troubles me when I hear of people I grew up with, not even necessarily as close friends, but still grew and matured alongside nonetheless, getting arrested, incarcerated, or killed.

It’s just, wow… Wasn’t I just laughing with you a few years ago? Didn’t I just see you faithfully playing basketball every day in the court by our neighborhood? Weren’t you just really into skateboarding? Weren’t we just kids with hopes and dreams? We rode the same school bus. We ate the same terrible cafeteria food. You were a part of my childhood because you were a child like me, who I saw every day and could relate to. 

Now they won’t get the chance to finish growing in the way they should. So many opportunities just gone in an instant.

I am sad for them more than disappointed. I know it is not as simple as them “choosing” to be “criminals”– what an ugly, powerful label. I will not refer to them by it either. I only wish they had the guidance they needed to steer clear of that life.

I will not use them as a reminder to “stay focused” because that implies that they lacked self-discipline and motivation, and how can I judge the character of someone whom I have not spoken to in years? Who am I to talk about self-discipline when I have indulged and procrastinated, and sometimes just want to ignore all my responsibilities?

I will not use them as a lesson of “what not to do.” I learn from my own mistakes; I will not selfishly and self-righteously use theirs to build up my work ethic.

I will not demean them. I will pray for them.

I’m thinking of you, old friends. I hope this unfortunate moment does not define your life. And rest in peace to those who have lost their lives before they really ever got to live.

Contact the author, Laura Nieman, at la16@umbc.edu.