I’ve been pretty hard on the CA over the years, but in this morning’s edition there are two really great columns by two of my favorite punching bags.
The first comes from the often annoying Wendi Thomas. In her article, she talks about the conditions that perpetuate the cycle of violence in our society. The highly simplistic, but apt, declaration that, “Hurt people, hurt people”.
It’s taboo in our society to acknowledge that individuals who commit violence are anything more than animals. Indeed, our entire judicial system has become more a means or classifying people and isolating them from society than anything else. Breaking them down instead of building them up.
The harsh reality is that we can’t keep all of these people locked up forever. Some of them are released, as was the gentleman arrested for the Lester St. murders back on January 24th. If the criminal justice system hasn’t done anything to help them change their behavior, one can only assume that the behavior will continue, and, considering the environment of many prisons, the behavior will probably be worse.
We, as a society, have to be fully invested in the mental, and physical health and well being of all the people of our society. Our society has been fractionalized by individuals whose intent is the creation of nothing more than a collection of socio-economic fiefdoms. Dividing us to weaken our ability, as the citizens of this nation, to assert control.
It’s time to take that control back, but to do it, we have to look inside ourselves for the trust and hope for a better tomorrow that we’ve given up on. We have to get involved in our communities, not just the neighborhood association we belong to, but the one down the street, and the ones across town. In order to make it better we need a dialogue. Which leads me to the next column.
In the Viewpoint section of the paper, Chris Peck sums it up nicely:
When Memphis TV stations turned to the ubiquitous man-on-the-street interviews asking residents what to do about crime, the answer most often cited was simply, “Pray more.”
That suggests that many people simply don’t believe the power of men and women is able to change much about the city. We just pray, and put a teddy bear on a light pole in honor of the dead.
We need more than prayers and teddy bears at a time like this.
We need brutal honesty about what works to change lives — and what doesn’t.
We need accountability, not platitudes, from leaders.
We need courage to say ”enough” — and mean it.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. We, as citizens of this city, heck, region for that matter, cannot sit back and wait for the people who are our “leaders” or the people causing the “problems” to give us control, we have to take it, own it, and run with it. In the four years that I have lived here, any suggestion of a different way, something other than maintaining the status quo, has been met with a shrug. That’s seriously messed up.
This is our city, and if nothing else, we have to own it, warts and all, and work like hell to fix it. We’re way past due for a makeover, but stadiums and buildings and whatnot are not the answer, a shift in perspective is. Until there is a commitment from our people to change the environment, nothing will happen. That’s been my mantra since I started this blog over a year ago. It’s nice to see that message relayed in a forum with more reach. Hopefully more eyes will open, more action will be spurred, and we can start the process of building something great here instead of watching idly as it crumbles around us.