The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Winter Monday

"There is nothing so pitiful as a young cynic because he has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing." --Maya Angelou*

Yesterday, I made my first pledge to you on this blog—that pledge was to do my best to make sure that all Plainfield residents feel safe and secure in their homes and their persons. Today, I went to a funeral and homegoing for a young person, 16 year-old Shawane Lovely, who was gunned down last Sunday here in Plainfield. Shawane not only should have felt safe, he should have been safe. I was asked to say a few words at that funeral, but I demurred—there were no words I could conjure on the spur of the moment that I felt would add to the occasion, so I left my personal condolences in the visitor’s book. 

As this boy’s life was remembered, as he was grieved by his family and literally hundreds of school mates from Plainfield High School, I was finding it difficult at that moment to express anything but despair. But despair is not enough. Sadness is not enough. Hope is what kids need—hope coupled with actions that will show them that we truly care about them and the struggles they face in their young lives. 

As I am reflecting now, a few hours later, I am thinking about what we, as adults, need to do. I speak to young people every day in my professional life, but in this kind of circumstance, I don’t know exactly what I would say to the young folks, the youth of Plainfield. 

But I do know what I would say to the adults among us. It has to do with cynicism and despair. We, as adults, must not succumb to cynicism and despair, for, if we do, the battle is over. If we give in, we may as well be saying, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” I am not prepared to say that. We, as adults, are (or ought to be) the role models for our kids.

It is for us, as adults, to give them hope and keep them from harm—to ensure that they outlive us, as much as the Almighty deems it possible.

For, if we are not strong enough to withstand these emotions, how can they be? How can they, with so little knowledge of the world and its vagaries, withstand? 

All best, Plainfield, in hope and possibility,


*This quote was placed on the Facebook status page of one of my friends—quite fitting.


  1. Truer words have never been said Rebecca! It's funny though... a lot of us talk about the problem but do nothing. From what I have seen rebecca, you are about change! I commend you!!!

    Baron Hilliard

  2. Let's see what actual change you can make. Talk is cheap.

  3. What we need is an education system that focuses on education - not sports as the focus.

    Our children need to know there is a bigger, wonderful world outside of Plainfield. Unfortunately, I do not see the BOE taking advantage of other programs that can help - Education Nation comes to mind.

    Our school system has no formal volunteer program - how can the community help?

    True words, Rebecca. And if there are answers to the questions, I have faith you will find them.

  4. Rebecca, we are counting on you to bring true change. That starts with pay-to-play. You and the other New Dems can make this happen.

    Good luck!

  5. To 6:25 am: Perhaps you have succumbed. I have not.

    All best,


  6. Awww...shedding a few tears. How very touching...

  7. To 7:02 am: I hope you feel good about your comment--your cynicism is JUST what folks need to see. Make sure you share these sentiments with your own loved ones, and keep up the good work!


  8. To the anonymous commenter with all the questions: I am not going to allow my blog to become a space for individuals to post their "beefs"--as others have said, start your OWN blog and write what you want--you won't get a platform here. In answer to your main question, though, the answer is "yes."


  9. Rebecca -

    I can understand you not speaking at this young man's funeral. There are NO WORDS! There IS ACTION! And . . . by you writing and acknowledging the PROBLEM is the beginning. So 6:25 -Talk is not cheap if it is followed up by action, which is what Councilor Williams will do. "I know her like that."

    7:02 -Councilor Williams never mentioned shedding tears - she seeks answers and solutions. She observes and listens before she speaks or acts.

    How do parents protect their children? How does a community protect their children? I thought I did all I could do to protect my son. So I thought . . .

    I am with you Councilwoman Rebecca Williams.
    Anonymously I shed tears . . .

  10. I have known Rebecca for over 20 years. Her sentiment is sincere and her hope is endless.

    As a NYer I envy all that the future holds for you with Ms. Williams in your corner.

    Gen Bel.

  11. How's that tennis center coming?

  12. For 30 years we have told ourselves we do not want our children dying on the streets. For 30 years we have told ourselves we want a better education. For 30 years we have told ourselves we do not want to see our taxes go up. And for 30 years we have said we want safer streets.

    Are you saing something different? Something that is new? Something that we don't know?