A witness had observed a male by a white vehicle grab a little boy by his neck and shove a water bottle into his mouth. The boy gasped for breath before breaking into a scream. As a kid, I was encouraged by the adults in my life to be brave and speak out. I have noticed that this sense of bravery burrows away, many of us become risk-averse and afraid of being different. Due to the bravery of that bystander, the life of my three-year-old nephew was saved. Life had turned in a quick and unexpected way the day my nephew came to live with me and my mom.
My days were everything ordinary, I went to school, ran cross country, and did homework. With the excellent mentality of a teenager, I believed the best way to cope with change was to ignore the change. Little did I realize, my mom was under extreme financial and physical stress. She expected to celebrate the final years of her youngest’s childhood and enjoy the freedom of an empty nest. But, she was given a toddler. His squealing, crying, and heavy-footed sprints across the house brought a new air of chaos into our home.
Resentful, I did not necessarily begin as what one would call the best aunt. I would give my nephew the bare minimum of attention and affection. However, my complacency was soon to be short-lived. On the night that photos of the police report of the incident had come in through the mail, it was then that I realized the reality of his situation. The small white car had trash, blankets, and tools for drug use littered across all visible sights. I realized that he had no control over his situation, he was merely an innocent victim. My selfish expectations of how I envisioned my years of high school are nowhere nearly as important as the life presented in front of me.
My resistance met a moral obligation.
This leads me to think deeper about my own ethics. What actions do I take to fulfill my responsibilities as a daughter? Under what circumstances do we as people feel morally obligated to help others? While the nature of these questions is entirely subjective to one’s own moral agent, my nephew helped me create a conclusion of my own. I am fully aware that I have the power to provide help and make a difference. I quit cross country to help alleviate my mom’s stress at home. I take pride in welcoming those who need help most and accepting the unpredictable events of life. My nephew has taught me that compassion goes beyond my household, it affects my community. I lose sight of it when I am distracted by social media and the political sphere. However, he serves as a constant reminder to be brave, to speak up, and treat everyone with warmth. For the rest of my life, I promise to embrace kindness in my family and my community.