An Open Letter to Young Men

Reflecting on a life of crime, negativity, and hatred, New-York based rapper John Sha shares his life and his experiences. Hoping that his message reaches the eyes and ears of the troubled youth, his words will give you goosebumps as you read. Dealing with the loss of loved ones is never an easy task, Sha collected his thoughts and emotions perfectly into this letter.

An Open Letter To Young Men

I once lost someone.

My father figure suffered a stroke, and survived. I stayed with him for a week as he began to regain his strength. On the seventh day, I went to wash clothes. When I returned, he was gone.

I didn’t have a person I could talk to about my feelings.

I joined a gang.

For a long time before I joined a gang, I fantasized about the lifestyle. The images of guns and drugs were often accompanied by images of money, girls, or large groups of black men wearing the same color. There was unity. It looked like love.

As a member of my gang, it was a routine practice to inflict pain on our enemies. Surrounding neighborhoods became warzones. Elderly women became witnesses. Storeowners became lookouts. Kids became soldiers.

Some of us knew our father. Some of us even lived with one. A lot of our mothers were not in the best living conditions. Remarkably, some of us came from loving homes with minimal financial issues.

What we did made us happy.

It allowed us to avoid the depths of our pain. In many cases we took our pain and used it to cause pain to other people. That didn’t make us happy. Doing something vile and evil made the evil feelings inside of us comfortable. Without an outlet to release our pain, we transformed ourselves to embody the pain we hated so much. That was the illusion of happiness.

On those long nights walking the streets looking for enemies or innocent victims, we bonded.

We bonded over the pain of others. We bonded during our escapes of law enforcement. We bonded over war stories. We bonded over violence.

There wasn’t always a reason for violence.

Rarely do I ever consider the lives of the people who were walking home after a long day at work, or after just getting fired, or after finding out their spouse cheated, or that their child is mentally disabled. I don’t think any of us thought about what the people we were attacking were going through. We didn’t take into account the type of person they were. Who was important to them, and whom they were important to? We didn’t care if the beating we gave them would drastically effect their night, day, or life.

The mistake I made a long time ago was focusing on the pain.

When we choose to focus on love, we wash pain away. We wash hatred away. We wash insecurity away. It is in your most trying moments, that you will need to remember the brightest spots in your life.

The entire world is in pain right now. And again the teary eyes of loved ones remind us how precious life is for everyone.

I think how angry a mother must be. A sister must be. A father must be. And still they have the strength to ask for love.

I pray that all of my young boys learn to love themselves and not their pain.

Because in the summer of 2018. In the uptown section of New York, in a borough called the Bronx.

We all lost someone.

– John Sha