Sunday, January 13, 2013

" the road less traveled....."

“Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or weak... Non-violence is hard work.” ― César Chávez
     A few years ago I resided in a city with a current homicide rate of 75% for young black males between the ages of seventeen and nineteen. The city was considered the "murder capitol" of the state for quite sometime and currently has one of the highest death by firearm rates in the country. After working hard and enjoying the single life peacefully in the city for nine years prior a few unprovoked incidents occurred that continue to shape my personal views on guns and crime in America. The who and why remains complicated and unclear. One evening as I headed off to work I approached my car to find a stranger sitting on the hood. I asked the man politely to remove himself from my property and he wandered off. The next day my vehicle was keyed while parked at my apartment complex. Naturally, as most people would do I filed both a police report and insurance claim. After having the vehicle damage appraised initially, it was repeatedly scratched over a few weeks and culminated with an ignorant, hateful racial slur being carved into my driver side door. So not only did I report the vandalism but also reported a hate crime. Let me get this straight!? Someone sits on MY car and then when I ask this piece of human garbage to get off MY property, I'm the enemy? Are people really that insane?

     Yes, yes they are and that is my point. People who don't value their own life will never value anothers life. What if I had overreacted and just whipped out a gun? What if he had pulled a gun on me? What if all I could do was stare out my window all day and night with a rifle pointing at the parking lot? What if I had gone and bought countless more weapons and stockpiled my own personal arsenal just waiting to ambush someone? What if they were going to ambush me ? What kind of life is that? It's not life at all, its just being paralyzed with fear and paranoia. And it's certainly not freedom. What if I allowed myself to be so afraid that I never left my apartment to speak with all the other neighbors who were being victimized by the same group of thugs? What if I had become so fearful that I didn't write letters to the apartment complex, state officials, federal agencies, civil rights organizations and anyone else who could offer ideas to help ease our communities drug, loitering and trespassing violators? Was it a violent gang member trying to intimidate an entire neighborhood who keyed my car? Who threw a cement block at my apartment window? What if the ignorance and violence just continued to spiral out of control? Who controls the fear? Escalation of violence is one reason there are even more illegal firearms and military grade weapons on the streets and in the hands of people who DO and will murder innocent people. They have a gun, you have a gun. They have two guns and you buy three. Where does it end? Criminals have access to Bushmasters and AK-47's, law enforcement agencies need more than a pistol to protect citizens as well as themselves. How else can they remove weapons from the street? How do they get on the streets of so many urban areas of the US? How do they wind up in the hands of seventeen to nineteen year old young adults? How do they wind up in the hands of gangs and drug dealers? Law enforcement agencies don't stock up and upgrade their weapons cache because they LOVE guns. They are dealing with the reality of gun violence every day not romanticizing it from a secured Hollywood studio or avid gun collectors mansion. Do we want everyone in American to dress for work in Kevlar suits as if heading into combat? Do you want to dress your children in bulletproof vests and helmets for school?

     Apparently, a few politicians want our teachers to teach, preach, baby-sit, be mommy AND daddy, a child's moral compass and NOW a damn weapons expert. Instead of writing this from home I could be writing this from a prison cell if I had allowed my anger and rage to overpower my humanity. Anger and fear solve nothing. It is how you choose to use that anger and fear that will create a solution. Gun laws and gun restrictions are a sensitive topic in our country right now and I have taken great consideration in hearing and understanding opinions of people on both sides of the debate. We do not simply accept violence as part of our American culture and stockpile more guns. Accept violence? No. Don't just shout over each other. Listen.

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