Thursday, November 10, 2005

Violence and Hope

Last Sunday morning at about 2:00 a.m., just down the street and around the corner from our house, two people were murdered.

Evidently, the couple, a 44-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman, were returning home when someone drove up and fired an automatic weapon, killing both.

The gunfire woke me up. It sounded as if it was in our front yard. We can see the home of the unfortunate couple from our front porch.

Since the grim event, friends and family have been coming and going, no doubt in an effort to comfort other family members who reside there.

Such an event and the loss of life is terrifying, to say the least.

But, underneath the senseless act of violence lurks a paralyzing sort of despair.

How could such a thing ever happen? What sort of insane rage or senseless de-valuing of life could arrive at such a moment, at such a terribly wrong decision?

Violence among the poor is a terrible fact of life in urban America. The ready availability of firearms, automatic weapons, doesn't help us.

Even worse than the proliferation of cheap weapons, if you can imagine anything worse, is the growing sense that life doesn't much matter.

If a person believes that his life is pretty much useless and without meaning or hope, why should he refrain from acting out this self-understanding? Often drug-induced acts of violence signal the depth of the loss of personal meaning and life purpose.

There is no excuse for such acts of irrational violence.

The answer to violence in the city must involve stepped-up law enforcement strategies, as well as heightened community cooperation and engagement.

But law enforcement will not provide ultimate solutions. No human effort will.

"Growing hope"--read "germinating" just here--in the ghetto must occupy a central place in any realistic strategy to reduce the senseless violence flowing from hopeless rage, gang life's counterfeit community, drug addiction/dealing and personal loss of meaning.

Gunshots in the night or the peaceful silence of rest will provide concrete markers for our progress or regress in inner city neighborhoods.


Joel Quile said...

"But law enforcement will not provide ultimate solutions. No human effort will."


Only a relationship with God can bring this hope.

The problem is that we are God's messengers.

And we'd rather tell the story again and again to one another in our safe churches and then drive our safe cars back to our safe homes in our safe neighborhoods rather than share it in the dangerous places. And then when we do decide to share that hope it is so conditional and uncompassionate that it comes with a big plate of guilt and no food or other physical help. We play it safe and sorry!

Reminds me of the story in the Chronicles of Narnia where Mr. Beaver, in response to Lucy's question of whether the great lion Aslan is "quite safe," explodes, "Safe? Safe? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn't safe. But he's good."

I'm sorry you didn't get a good night sleep Larry.

I'm sorry I did.

I love you.

Brandon Scott said...

I'm a "room parent" in a 4th grade class in the projects in inner city Nashville. Yesterday I was there for lunch and recess. I was sitting under a tree with a student who was in trouble when we heard gunshots. The recess yard backs right up to a housing project. My immediate reaction was to duck and cover, but none of the kids seemed that phased by it at all.

To me, one of the sadder parts of urban life is that many of those kids grow up expecting nothing different.

The other observation in my time there...affirmation is golden. The kids seem to just immediately respond to affirmation. It's so cool to watch.

A guy on staff with me said yesterday, "The salvation of the righ is directly tied to the salvation of the poor." I think that's really true. The reality of that sets in with me more and more each day. These kids many times have way more to offer me than the other way around. Know Jesus? Most do. Maybe in deeper ways than I could ever imagine.