“Since you will come
and throw kisses
at my tombstone later
why not give them to me now
this is me
that same person.”
Jesse Harvey was a fierce and loyal advocate for people to be treated with dignity and compassion, particularly those who struggle with substance abuse addiction. On Monday September 8, Jesse was murdered by societal shame. He was a bright light; a soul on passionate fire and not for his own gain. He worked tirelessly to create a safe refuge in this world where every individual would know the human dignity that is their birthright. Jesse suffered a thousand arrows of shame before he died. Jesse, who bountifully doled out compassion to anyone suffering found only it’s absence in his final days. Jesse, who was championed during his sobriety and in his pursuit of compassion for all – found that once he chose to use substances again, the fanfare subsided. In this moment we vow to not forget this tragic example, an unbearable embodiment of the deadly injustice to which he dedicated his life’s work.
We at Dignity owe a great deal of gratitude for the tireless labor Jesse freely gave. He shook the foundation; woke the sleepy eyes of a society – asleep amidst the pleas for help. He did it for love. He did it for dignity. Dignity is the right of a person to be valued and respected for their own sake, and to be treated ethically. Jesse knew this was the antidote to our substance use epidemic. He emboldened those wishing to look away, to see the person behind the stigma. At Dignity, we vow to continue his work. Jesse’s life serves not only as our roadmap for how to treat others with loving respect, it alerts us to the potential outcomes of when they are not.
Let this be the last time anyone has to die to be thrown kisses or to receive compassion as they are in that moment. Let this be the last plea of recognition. This is me/That same person. Let us meet people where they are and ask, how can we help? May we show up every day with the same love, dedication, compassion, and dignity as Jesse did. Let us amplify his bright beacon of light and burn through the forest of shame that kills so many. Jesse, we see you. Jesse we know you. Jesse, we will show up for you, not only in this moment but every opportunity to demonstrate the value of life without conditions.
If you feel called to honor Jesse and his legacy, join the Dignity Street Team. We stand on the front lines, shaking society awake to the devastation and destruction and spreading the message of compassion and Dignity. Reach out to email@example.com and we will find a way – in whatever capacity you are able to show up – to use your energy and talent to save lives and honor Jesse Harvey’s legacy.