“The price of greatness is responsibility.” — Winston Churchill
On the agenda for yesterday, Day 3, of the family reunion was the DC Tour.
With family coming from different parts of the country and the world, it was essential to take our visitors to the major DC tourist attractions, such as the monuments and Smithsonian museums.
Initially, I planned on skipping Day 3 and staying home. Although I love my family, I was not going to walk around the National Mall in 90 degrees heat just to be a designated photographer. However, Sunday, while discussing the reunion activities, a few of my cousins asked if I could take them somewhere else.
Expressing that they visited the monuments before and were not interested in going again. Recognizing that they were thirsty for a new experience, I decided to take them to Georgetown, to see the waterfront and shop on M st.
So Monday afternoon, we all met up at Greenbelt station. My dad took my aunts, uncles, and 5 of my little cousins to the monuments. And I took 15 of my cousins, ages ranging between 11- years old and 21- years old, to Georgetown.
You can imagine how overwhelming it was to travel with such a large group, but I saw it as a test run. Wednesday and Thursday, we were heading to NYC and people already asked if they could hang out with me instead of going site seeing. DC, a smaller and less hectic city than New York, I said to myself, if today works I’m willing to attempt in NYC.
So prior to boarding the train to ensure that everyone was on the same page, I held a quick pow-pow session. I said, “Today is a test to determine if you can come on moves with me during the NYC part of the reunion. So behave yourself because I will be observing.”
At first, things were off to a pretty good start. No one got lost or left behind on the train or bus. We took some nice pictures and were roaming the streets of Georgetown.
Then, at the second to the last store before leaving, someone stole something.
Initially, I had no idea. Leading the pack from the front, I walked out first while my brother and one of my other cousins lead from the back, so they were last to leave the store.
When the store alarm went off, the store associate asked my cousin, the last one to walk out to come back. Seeing that he didn’t have anything, he let him go.
After the final store, we hopped on the bus to get something to eat. And while eating, my brother broke the news that someone stole something.
Initially, I didn’t have much of a reaction. Because when I was their age, I stole clothes from the store so getting mad would only be hypocritical. I was more so disappointed than upset. The thief put my 14 other cousins and me at risk for a $50 item.
After Josh stated that the culprit must admit to the crime, I announced to the group that if the person didn’t come clean by the end of the day, no one would hang out with me during the NYC trip.
Shortly after my message to the group, we left and went to my uncle’s house to celebrate one of my cousin’s birthday. A couple of hours into the birthday celebration, my brother Josh came up to me and said he knew who did it.
Immediately, I stopped him and said I don’t want to hear from him. That I want to hear it from the person, they have to look me in the eye and tell me that they stole. He said, ok I’ll relay your message.
The night came and went, and no one confessed to the crime.
This morning, I asked Josh if he’d spoken to the person to confirm he got my message. He responded, yes, but the person thought to confess to me was enough, he didn’t know you also wanted to have a conversation.
“Intentions do not insulate us from the consequences of our actions.” ― Jon D Harrison
After my conversation with Josh, it was clear that the person was afraid of being held accountable. The person was fearful of the potential judgment he’d face, distressed that maybe I would decline his Cashapp requests, or worried I would no longer give him my old clothes.
In a nutshell, afraid of losing access to a valuable relationship. A relationship where he did more taking than giving.
Empathizing with the thoughts likely running through his head, and Josh initially making it seem like I was too hard on them, I began to question my own decision. Debating if I should stand by my word and not take anyone out with me in NYC or make an exception not to ruin the trip for the others not involved.
Then Danny reminded me that “to bend once is to bend forever.”
In essence, he confirmed that this was bigger than enjoying the NYC trip. This was about learning accountability. Because if you don’t learn from your loved ones, the world will teach you in the form of criminal records and prison sentences.
The other hurtful part is that I made plans for them to enjoy the city. They told me some of the stores they wanted to check out, so I made arrangements. Behind the scenes, I was putting things together, but unfortunately, they fumbled the bag.
Although I’m still a bit frustrated about the situation, I’ve learned two valuable lessons.
First, part of being a leader is making tough/difficult decisions. The ones that won’t get you celebrated but may get you cursed. A necessary reminder that the path will not be rosy and peachy.
Second, and more importantly, it led me to consider all the times I’ve fumbled the bag. Wonder how many times I’ve prayed for something, or made a request of God as my little cousin did of me. And while God was putting things together in the background, like with my cousins, I fumbled the bag. Leading me to wonder how many great opportunities and “unanswered prayers” were a result of me fumbling the bag.
Nonetheless, the goal for the remainder of 2019 and life is to never fumble to bag again.
“Wisdom stems from personal accountability. We all make mistakes; own them… learn from them. Don’t throw away the lesson by blaming others.” ― Steve Maraboli