The Stories of (an)Other: Unfolding Narratives

The Integration of Stories

Over the last ten days, I wrote of our personal experience in a church where gun violence had been a tragically accepted part of life. The tragedy of lost loved ones -mostly youth- was a sobering listen to the door opening on an others story. Only two days after I posted a reflection on the church’s effort towards mission, this story penetrated our families reality. It is the story of people we know. Sean was a the father of an unborn child, a child who lost his young dad to the violence of the streets.

Courtesy of CBS Pittsburgh

Sean Thompson, Father to Be

PITTSBURGH — Channel 11 News has learned a 34-year-old man who was killed after being shot in

Lawrenceville early Thursday morning was a father-to-be.Police said Sean Thompson was shot along Keystone Street shortly after 1 a.m.

He was taken to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, where he later died.Channel 11 News learned Thompson’s fiancee lives in the neighborhood and is pregnant with the couple’s first child.“It’s sad. No one deserves this,” one neighbor said.

Nearby residents said they heard the shots fired and ran outside to see what happened.”I’ve never been around violence like this before,” one neighbor said. “Maybe 12 to 16 shots were fired. We came outside and the guy was lying on the ground. He was still bleeding.

“Thompson was an employee at a car dealership on McKnight Road. His co-workers said he was a good man and a hard worker.

Stories Sittin’ on the Front Porch

Where is this world we live, when problems are solved with hand-held power of life and death, triggered by emotion? Where not only multiple shots are fired, but 12 to 16? What is this story, that so many of us don’t ever experience except for these news stories, that shapes our perception? We write and tell our own stories about the story, having never once been on peoples corners, sat on their porches, and eaten at their dinner tables to listen to something different than our own. We don’t know what we don’t know, and we write fiction to fill in the gaps.

The irony of our stories? They’re intertwined, despite our familiarity or ignorance. Further, we helped to author them. We are all responsible for this. We author the stories, writing into the script our systemic racism, universalism’s, cultural supremecy, with choices about the plotline: who we spend time with, where we live, how our ideologies shape our decisions great and small, etc.

“We’ve All Got the Blood On Our Hands”

Jack Johnson wrote a song about this very thing. Although song is a beautiful way to tell a story, I can only offer the lyrics…

“Cookie Jar”

I would turn on the TV but it’s so embarrassing
To see all the other people I don’t know what they mean
And it was magic at first when they spoke without sound
But now this world is gonna hurt you better turn that thing down
Turn it around

“It wasn’t me”, says the boy with the gun
“Sure I pulled the trigger but it needed to be done
Cause life’s been killing me ever since it begun
You cant blame me cause I’m too young”

“You can’t blame me sure the killer was my son
But I didn’t teach him to pull the trigger of the gun
It’s the killing on this TV screen
You cant blame me its those images he seen”

Well “You can’t blame me”, says the media man
Well “I wasn’t the one who came up with the plan
I just point my camera at what the people want to see
Man it’s a two way mirror and you cant blame me”

“You can’t blame me”, says the singer of the song
Or the maker of the movie which he based his life on
“It’s only entertainment and as anyone can see
The smoke machines and makeup and you cant fool me”

It was you it was me it was every man
We’ve all got the blood on our hands
We only receive what we demand
And if we want hell then hells what well have

And I would turn on the TV
But it’s so embarrassing
To see all the other people
I don’t even know what they mean
And it was magic at first
But let everyone down
And now this world is gonna hurt
You better turn it around
Turn it around

It was you, it was me, it was every wo/man. We killed Sean, pulling the trigger 12-16 times, leaving his child fatherless. I realize that this post is rather dark. I hesitated to post it, but I’m sure that Sean’s fiance, or his friends and family have experienced far more darkness than I can elicit here. And, I believe there’s some ring of truth to this darkness, though I won’t claim sole truth in authorship on even this story of a story. I hope this shines a bit of light in the darkness, and perhaps pushes out of writers block, or into a new way of storytelling. At least how we research our writing.

What new story do we need to write? How do we learn to narrate a different plot line?

~ by Brian Shope on July 7, 2011.

7 Responses to “The Stories of (an)Other: Unfolding Narratives”

  1. You will be missed by alot of people. You where a good person to everyone. Who ever did this to Sean (lydell) come to your since and think what you did because it could be you. He is a father to be How would you like to not see your unborn child.. All we can do is pray and hope they get them off the street so we can have some peace.

    • I did not know him, Dana; but I wept when I read the story of his death. Prayers for you as you continue to grieve…

  2. Sean’s death – what a heart-wrenching, tragic event. thanks for sharing his story. may God’s peace be more plentiful than human bullets.

  3. Thank you for writing this. I was Lydell fience. And I just woke fr iom my sleep having a dream about him..a dream of him not being gone just away in prision. And me writing him. This dream was so. Real that I woke up happy then had to remind myself he is gone. I just had to share that because it just happened. So like always I get on my phone and search his name.. knowing nothing has changed but do it anyway. And finally responded to your post.

    • Rachel,

      When I first read the account of Lydell’s death, I wept. To know as a daddy the connection to my unborn children, the hope and anticipation of what they will look like; caring for them; knowing that the struggle to be an imperfect daddy lies ahead; the joys of the things that little ones say; all of these things were mourned for y’all. I cannot begin to know your pain and loss, both as mother and fiance.

      Please know that we have wept for you, and prayed for you. And we will renew our prayers for y’all as well…

      • Thanks. His death has changed my life in many ways.. Some of my friends have also lost their children father’s due to the voilence. Never for a millions years did I think this would be in a part of my life. I have choosen that In his memory I will contiune to help the young people in my life by making postive steps forward to a rewarding life one not filled with the volience in t our streets.

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