The conversation about violence is exacerbating; but it must be talked about until it’s no longer an issue. Do I think we can live in a world without gun violence? No. But it can be lessened. In order to decrease the frequency of gun violence in urban communities we must first give a damn. This isn’t a self-contained problem that just affects communities where it is most rampant. It’s a world-wide issue. Just about everyone wants to solve the issue, but they just don’t know where to start. The people who are surrounded by uncontrolled violence have no choice but to confront it; even if it’s by rushing to and from their homes. Others? Not so much.

This post isn’t about solving the issues of gun violence. It’s more about getting people to understand why it’s a universal problem and not just an one that “those people over there” have to deal with.

Whether or not you live up north in a fancy high rise or out west in North Lawndale, we all should give a damn about the little boy in Englewood, Roseland, Washington Park and all of the other neighborhoods suffering from this symptom of a depressed community. We as a whole should care about our children. All of them. We should give a damn about the ones toting the semi-automatic weapons just as much as the potential athletes. We should care about the kid who takes the long way home to avoid the gangs just as much as we care about the one who rides his/her bike down the safe path in Oak Park. Even if it’s not happening in our very own backyards.

People tend to pay attention to what is right in front of them. Anytime there are rumors of a war, I find myself thinking “We have so many problems on our own soil. Why are they getting involved in situations that have nothing to do with them?” Fix your own stuff. Mind your own business. Don’t pay attention to or get involved in situations that do not involve you. In many instances this makes perfect sense. When it comes to the issue of inner city violence it does not. I believe that one of the greatest realizations one could have is discovering that we are all connected and essentially are affected by the actions of others. So ignoring problems do us no good anyway.

I was having a conversation with a friend who brought up an interesting point. If you’re from Chicago, you are proud.  Just about every native of the city talks about “Chitown” as if they built it with their own two hands. While there’s a lot to be proud of when it comes to Chicago, we have to recognize that there is a lot of improvement that needs to be conferred. That improvement will not take place unless we have people demanding such change from all over the city. We talk about what we’re most proud of with well, pride. The things that we dislike, with dislike. My friend’s point was this: that as proud Chicagoans, we should feel proud of our entire city. The neighborhoods, actions, behaviors and activities should all reflect something that we ourselves can be proud of. People should not be afraid to live where they live or be forced to just “adapt” to their surroundings. People who aren’t from certain neighborhoods should be able to explore every neighborhood with just as much confidence and unbiased opinion as they would their own, and if we’re not proud of those parts, take action. What action to take is debatable, but I think the first step to action is getting everyone to care.

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