Last weekend, Jacob write a letter to the district attorney for Johnson County, Kansas. He's a man in his mid-40s, and he'd never written to an elected official before. But the case of Esmie Tseng, a 16-year-old girl who stands accused of stabbing her mother to death, moved him to change his policy.
It wasn't just that. There were larger systemic and societal forces at play here. Throughout the weekend, he had heard people, random strangers, talk about Esmie's case, and they were all in agreement: It isn't right for this young girl to be tried as an adult.
In listening to this story during a recent chat with Jacob, I sensed that he was moved into action by what felt like a groundswell of common interest and concern, and his letter to Paul Morrison was a wholy democratic act, a gesture Jacob hoped would carry impacts beyond the parameters of this sad story about 16-year-old girl facing a long stretch in jail.
Then, after a brief procedural hearing in the case, Jacob sent me a rather lengthy e-mail in which he tried to explain some of his motivation, and my earlier hunches were confirmed.
Regardless of which where you stand on this case, whether you think Esmie ought to be tried as a juvenile or an adult, I hope that you will appreciate the spirit behind Jacob's words. These are feelings I have felt, feelings that have moved me into exciting but challenging circumstances.
I find it comforting to hear another person express similar feelings and desires. It makes me feel that I'm not alone, and there's power in that.
There is a lot of crap that we see out there every night on our TV. Most of it revolves around such big issues that we don’t feel we can make a difference. Whether it’s a war in Iraq, Al Qaeda, the hanging Chad’s of Florida or the frustration of a verdict like in the OJ trial – hell what can one person do. In the scheme of life I think we all feel pretty powerless to make change / to right the wrongs of the world.
But yet look at Cindy Sheehan, whether you agree or disagree with her politics this one woman believed enough in an issue that it took a hurricane to get her off the news.
There’s an old quote:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has...
So Joe – for me it’s the issue that I feel I can make a difference and I believe its worth fighting for. If I could stop the war in Iraq I would – I just feel I can’t. So here I am.