Stop the Senselessness

Below is a post that I originally drafted as an email in 2007 after learning of the tragic 5 person murder / suicide of people I knew. This horrific event was done by the hands of a 17 year old family member.

Why am I sharing this with you now? Because I am tired of seeing headline after headline of senseless acts of violence and mass murders… especially those committed by troubled youth. These situations are far too common in today’s society and we need to find solutions to help prevent these tragedies from happening. I’m not just talking about gun laws, etc. so don’t blow up the comments section with things like that. What I am talking about is finding ways to help those who might be suffering from mental illness and stopping the rage before it manifests into devastating actions. Part of the reason I wrote Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain is that I would see violence all around me as a youth. We (youth) glorified gangs, not video games, at that time. Through my foundation, I have donated to causes that provide solutions for young men and women who are a mentor away from destroying a life or the lives of others. I may not have all the answers but I know one thing for sure, I will not sit idly by and do nothing… and I hope you won’t either.

Plan to hear more from me on this subject and, like always, plan to see me and my foundation put our money where our mouth is. As you’ll see in my post, I think it’s also critically important that when these tragedies do occur that we also rise up and help the innocent victims in need.

Here is the original post from 2007:

I first learned of the family’s tragic murder after a Los Angeles Times news reference to their profiles on pathconnect.com hit my Blackberry.

The following was written in the story:

On pathconnect.com, Nikita Williams listed her passion as motocross. Other interests included dance, music, the beach and the mall. She predicted that by the time she was 18 she would “have accomplished school and will have my own business.” She also described a very close network of friends.

“My mom and my friends are my hero,” she wrote. “They are always by my side helping me through tough times and giving me [advice] on guys and life.”

Her sister Narissa listed Nikita, her mom and her friends as her heroes. “My life is pretty normal. I live in the wine country. I love my friends to death. School is fun to an extent,” she wrote in her Web profile. “I dislike teenage drama, it gets bad at our school. But anyways, my mom is soon to be a regional director.”

In loving memory, their profiles are receiving many visitors. I was both shocked and saddened that something so senseless could happen to such a young family. I was even more stunned to realize that I actually knew this family. While looking through their profile pages, I was at a loss for words when I saw Naomi’s default photo was a picture of the two of us taken at a PathConnect A-list party. While looking at Nikita’s profile I saw photos of myself on her page. Everything hit me the moment I saw the photos and read the words they wrote about the life they wanted.

Everything I talk about, all the speeches on purpose, on taking a stance, on youth mentorship, on raising children in a single parent family, on the challenges the youth face today in our society, was right in front of me.

When I first met Naomi, Nikita and Narissa, it was after I had given a speech. In the speech, I spoke to the group about my purpose and the power of knowing your purpose in life. After the speech Naomi came up to me and told me her story of obstacles overcome, of the challenges she had faced in life, as a single mother. With a smile from ear-to ear she said, “I would like to introduce you to my purpose.” She then introduced me to two beautiful young twin girls, Nikita and Narissa. You could tell she was proud of them.

Her daughters glowed as they smiled and shook my hand. They then asked me to take a picture with them. Their mother asked if I could spend some time with them in hopes I could give them advice. I remember the words I shared with them so well. I remember the look in their eyes as they listened to what I had to say, about life, the things I would do differently, the challenges that I felt they faced as youth in today’s world. I remember this family so differently than many others. Naomi’s purpose was close to home for me, as it was my single mother who struggled to raise me, who saved me by making me her cause. I respected Naomi as a single mother, clear on her purpose, passionate about her children and a fun, loving mother. I remember thinking to myself, “Naomi, your purpose is my purpose. I do what I do, because of people just like you, Narissa and Nikita.”

Yesterday, one week after their murder, I was speaking at an event in Fort Lauderdale, Florida before an audience of people about giving back. I decided to focus my speech on the Williams’ family murder, hoping to bring awareness to this unfathomable act. I thought it was important that my audience knew the people behind this story and that their tragic death is remembered for something more than just another five person murder suicide.

After explaining their story, I decided that I would pledge $2500 to the family and that my company Visuals Sciences would match every dollar raised in the room. So far, we are up to $10,000. I want to thank all the PathConnect members who have helped me champion this cause and who have donated to the families of our fellow community members.

These situations are far too common in today’s society. We need to stop talking about these tragedies as body counts in news stories and start taking action and talking about solutions. In the case of Naomi, Nikita and Narissa’s story: What drives a 17-year old boy to murder his entire family? Where does the rage come from? Why the anger? What is going on in our culture that could drive a teenage boy to murder? It’s clear we need to find a way to connect and understand this rage. We need to teach the youth about values, communicate with them, give them hope and restore the value of a human life in our society. We need to restore the value of family, educate on the purpose of goals and reach out to those in need and give back.

WE NEED TO BECOME AGENTS OF CHANGE!

This senseless tragedy has touched many of us. It’s so clear that it could have been prevented. This world needs change. It needs you to become an agent of change. Take action, make your voice heard and give back.

facebook comments:

Comments (16)
    Kim says:

    Thank you for Sharing Ryan…

    Agents for Change, Yes I agreee :-)
    Standing in the Gap for the Youth… They are our Future!!!!!

    Lora Stavrakis says:

    Thank you Ryan!
    I’m all about creating a better future for our kids!
    They are what will create the future for us all.
    We need to invest endless time & efforts in them!

    “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it.
    Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it.
    Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”
    ~Martin Luther King Jr.

    Mr. Blair’s post reminds me of the letter that the parent of a Columbine victim recently read to congress on the ten year anniversary of that tragedy. Incidents like Columbine, Sandy Hook, and the murder-suicide Mr. Blair mentioned above have become tragically common in our society. Why are so many young men turning to violence and hatred? How is this something we can change?

    I am a single mom and I have known great struggle, I have witnessed great hatred, and faced great adversity. I very much understand the challenges that our society faces. The only way to change the hatred is to cure it with love, faith, and hope. In Ryan’s Book ‘Nothing To Lose’ he delves into the sacrifices his mother made for him out of love. She fought great adversity with great bravery and stepped out on her own, working a deli counter to be able to provide for her son. In being brave and showing her son great love she planted a seed in him that would later allow him the strength to become the man he is today. No child should ever feel hopeless, angry, or afraid to go home. No young man should be filled with such anger that he chooses to take the lives of others in his blinding pain.

    We must take action to heal the wounds of our society; heal the wounds of ourselves. We’ve all heard “be the change you wish to see in the world” and it could not be more true right now. These violent young men have proven that one person can change the world – so believe and step outside of your comfort zone to do just that. Start by loving yourself, continue by showing love to your family, and extend it by showing love to others.

    “Love is the greatest power on earth. It conquers all things.” So take the time to change the world. Figure out how you can help make a change and build love and faith in our society. Get out there and do it. You may not have money to donate, but there are always ways to help – if only by showing love to the people you encounter.

    You have the ability to make a change in the world; therefore you have a responsibility to do just that. As Mr. Blair says about his mother at the end of his book: “My mother is the strongest woman I’ve ever known. She’s my hero. She taught me to love and to be positive no matter how bad our situation seemed.” Let her love and strength be your inspiration as well, and let it grow in others like it did in Mr. Blair. We all have it within us to change the world, we have only to choose it.

    Shell Rivera says:

    Ryan it really is heart breaking to see these head lines day after day. Even more disheartening is that these acts of violence are no longer “confined” to what once was the expected areas such as L.A., Chicago etc.. but now happening more and more in what were once well considered peaceful low crime safer areas.

    We need to do something for sure but the question is what can we do other than being there to listen and try to guide those suffering mentally. You are so right we need change.

    Thank you for continuing to be the caring person you are, and not forgetting the troubles you went through in the past as so many do when they become successful.

    Christy says:

    Ryan!! God is working today with ViSalus!! Listen, I met someone today. He is an evangelist who travels the world speaking to teens sharing the gospel in hopes to prevent teen suicide!! Please please please call me so I can tell you more about him! He wants to talk to you!!! 704-400-7631

    Carly J says:

    Ryan, you are an amazing human being. The more I learn about you the more I am in awe of you. You have an amazing heart. I absolutely agree with you whole heartedly!!

    Paul Dow says:

    Ryan I love your whole message on becoming agents of change. Take action, make your voice heard and give back is it! It is that simple.

    So people may ask where do I start? Start at work or at school. Find that person that sits alone and get to know them. Really listen to each other. Not just hear them but be with them. You know most people just want to be heard and feel important. If you truly listen to someone and step into “their shoes” not only do you help them but you gain insight for yourself and you will learn something. I promise you. If everyone did that to one person a day we would have a completely different world.

    Jen Hudgins says:

    Thank you for sharing your passion & mission with others. The first step is obviously awareness.
    We need to help instill self-love and self worth into the youth of America.
    I truly believe LOVE is the key, actually, I know it is.
    If our children and teenagers don’t love themselves they can’t love others. It’s a conundrum. The only way to save human life is to somehow teach that their life is worth saving in the first place and that they’re loved. That God doesn’t make mistakes, and they have a soul purpose. When people don’t love and care about themselves, loving others is impossible. Therefore human life has no credence.

    I’m all in.
    Jen

    sandra says:

    I know God called me to help children as I was once a teenager who had a very hard life (long story short) We take in teens all the time and mentor them and show them love and discipline and help get them on the path God made for them. I would love to connect with you and see what I can do here in Florida to help make a difference! God made me to make a difference and to be the voice!

    Kathie Rysk says:

    I agree 100%. I have a friend who does security at Edison HS in Stockton, CA. He watches kids kill other kids all the time. He told me this…

    It starts with the adults. Be involved with your kids and the youth in your community. When you see a kid you know do something wrong, call them on it. Take them aside and counsel them. Take the time to notice their strengths and encourage them. If you don’t go it when they are young you may be too afraid of them as a teen. Kids need to be held accountable… They need to know that someone cares enough to step in and say something. A few minutes could change the path if a young person forever.
    Looking forward to hearing more today Ryan, in Ontario.

    Rene says:

    Thank you Ryan for having a mission like that in your life, and I truly beleive that people like you and I have to get involved in order to change thing.I have had the honor to hear you in the past in a few occasions, the last time it was at the RD+ retreat in Anaheim.That day I felt you in my soul, you gave me inspiration and purpose in my life. You have help me see things in a different way. Sorry if I have went offtrack. What I wanted to say is that we have stop expecting governments to fix everything, what we need is a village as it takes a village to raise a child,we as a community have to rise our childrens, that is the only way to have a better society.

    Fernando says:

    Keep up your tremendous effort too bring hope and make a reknowd significant change in someone’s life.

    Chris says:

    I have read your post and I agree with you, I am here in Maryland and used to work in the Juvenile corrections what I see is a system that has no plan for these kids they don’t teach them a trade or a business how to handle money get a bank account nothing they are left to what they know when they get out… I tried starting a program that was based on teaching them to train dogs from the shelter could not get anyone to help fund it… I have been a k9 trainer for years and also ran my own company…

    The Idea was to teach them the business side of it as well to give them something for when they got out to work in a pet store or open their own company.. I have worked with inmates before and feel that once they are out their debit is paid treat them like you or I would what to be treated.

    I truly believe that a lot of rage and anger is in mental illness but when people have hope and work this works with their treatment to keep them doing well..

    See Lo says:

    I agree with you Ryan. My heart cries out every time I hear another news about these little angels. The awareness has been out there from bullying to shoot outs, professional psychologist are always wanting to the why people would set off such as the kids at Columbine, Tech Shoot out, Sandy Elementary… etc; when it’s right in front of our faces.

    Most of these shooters are victims themselves, they were pushed to the edge and no one paid any attention until a crime was committed. And no matter what the media says, they will never understand a person’s psychological emotion. What breaks my heart even more is that professionals such as: doctors, psychiatrists would rather get paid over the lives of their charges. It’s understandable that they need to make a living, but couldn’t they just volunteer to help those who can’t afford it? Who actually needs it?

    I volunteer with a network of people who help teens cope with their issues they have: self-esteem, suicide, bullying, race/diversity issues, etc… It’s really sad to say that the majority of the people don’t want to put in time to help those who needs help. Plain and simple.

    Russ Jones says:

    As one who has gone through the torment of mental illness and recovered from it, I want to say, love has more healing power than all the drugs in the world. Until I found the woman who has been my wife since 1977, I was hurting from wounds I couldn’t name. My sweet lady confronted my demons and stayed with me even as they twisted me into the monster my own family so feared as to drive me away in rejection. Today, I still battle against the stigma of mental illness, but though financially stressed, I have the wealth of her love every day.

    AJ Hunn says:

    Ryan, I truly believe that my 17-year-old son and I have the avenue for ViSalus to engage this generation and make a difference.

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