Friday, November 22, 2013

My post today was originally going to be about the Christmas Baskets program, but as I sat down to write, I found that my heart was heavy with another topic.

It is heavy because it is the biggest holiday season of the year and a young girl was killed just over a week ago, allegedly shot by another young person. Let me begin by saying that I did not know the victim. I don't know her family, her friends. I don't live in her neighborhood. I've heard stories from many who did know her, who are devastated by her loss. All the sympathetic words and the vigils in her honor combined cannot piece the lives that were destroyed back together. Not even time can do that entirely.

But I would be remiss in remaining silent despite not knowing her personally. She did not die a natural death. She did not pass away peacefully in her sleep, or even from a long drawn out terminal illness. She died at the hands of another child. When I was fifteen, it never even crossed my mind that I could be walking down the street and be shot dead by another person my own age. I never worried about that kind of violence.

Where have we, as a society, gone wrong when it comes to our youth?  When did we become so accepting of children killing children? Why have so many of us become  complacent when it comes to the issues that face these kids today? We need to stand together as a community and give support to our young people so that when they are faced with gangs, and drugs and gun violence and all of the things that cause these things to be an issue in the first place (racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty, domestic violence -- the list goes on and on), they choose to take an alternative path instead. We need to continually offer them other opportunities to make better choices, to show that we care about them and the things they're doing in their lives, so that they see there are other alternatives to violence.

I pray for the families in this tragedy. Not just for the victim's family and friends, but also for the person responsible, and their family and friends. Violence in our community ruins so many lives, and we have to stop being apathetic about what's happening with our neighbors and the other people in our community.

I urge you to take a step toward making a difference. Volunteer with an after school program. Become a mentor for a student. Get involved with your neighborhood group (or help form one if there isn't one where you are). There are a LOT of ways you can make a difference in the life of young people. Maybe you can be the person who saves a child from being victimized by violence .

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