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Friday, June 17, 2011

The Realism of the Streets

Too often we accede too readily to the notion that the realism of the streets is filled only with violence, lawlessness, gangs, and drugs.  I do not and cannot deny that this painful aspect of the streets is true.  Just today I learned that Bo Diddley was killed—the brother of Aaron who was also killed on the streets of Saint Petersburg.  Both I counted as friends.  Yet, I also know of another street reality.  In Saint Petersburg every community is filled with churches, parks, and recreation centers.  There are people and programs actively seeking to provide job training and placement for all—especially youth.  Many compassionate people have refused to throw in the towel on any neighborhood.  Hardnosed change agents are reliably committed and never cease conceding that even the worst neighborhoods are filled with children.  The commitment for betterment is founded on the belief that there is a citywide community whose perimeters are all inclusive.  In a way this neighborly commitment is a choice, but in another it comes from the realization that neglect carries a price that cannot be neatly contained.  A city without compassion and widespread nurturing is doomed to make one’s own property values and quality of life go down wherever one lives.  Perhaps the flipside of compassion is an elemental fear of the invisible hand of cosmic justice as it brings retribution to the self-absorbed and callous.

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