A couple days ago shots President Trump fired shots at Chicago from his Twitter feed. The man has a particular gift for getting people whipped up into a frenzy. He knows all the weak points. All the buttons to push. But this one made me particularly livid because it was a high profile, visible manifestation of what I’ve been telling people all along. We’re all complicit in Chicago’s “violence problem”.
I place that in quotes not because it isn’t a problem. But because the problem itself has become its own entity. A contained virus. A tool by which people leverage and measure their relevance or goodness in the world. Rappers use it to establish street cred. Politicians use it gain votes. Hipsters use it to sharpen their startup skills. Media to sell papers. Celebrities to signal to the world they ‘care’ about something even if they haven’t really worked in or been back to the Southside in years.
We’re all feeding a monster. And though I do my best, I’m no exception. Chicago doesn’t have a violence problem. We have a skills gap problem. An education problem. A segregated resources problem. A parenting/village/community problem. All of these things are exacerbated by our inability to keep our mouths shut about what we don’t want so that we can focus on what we do want. Simply put, we have the gift of gab for the wrong things.
I’m not going to get into the statics about how per capita, it’s not that bad. Or how it’s isolated to certain communities because the fact of the matter is, any murder is unnecessary and preventable. If we stop making crime the soapbox upon which we stand, there’ll be less attention and therefore less energy for the people committing these crimes that can be diverted to deploying impactful positive change.
There are a thousand and one people down here who are working solutions. I mean really making an impact. Some of them seasoned and wise. Many of them young and hopeful. Working 70 hour weeks for $30k and they need your support. Every time you get on Facebook to complain or blame or point fingers, you’re throwing salt in their wounds; throwing them and the residents they serve into a kind of hopeless submission. You’re saying what they’re doing doesn’t matter. But it’s not because they’re not doing anything you’re just not paying attention.
The law of attraction is real. Whatever you focus on will grow. It’s best we focus on the things already happening that are making the city great. Here are some ways to change the narrative: