Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Are we in and impasse that we can't escape?

I finished dinner listening to the sound of multiple news helicopters hovering over the vigil
 tonight for the fallen OPD officers.  15 blocks and 2 worlds away from my front porch was the scene of the murders in the street and then the SWAT invasion of a building.  I usually don't think about crime much, in the sense that I'm afraid.  I don't drive to the Coliseum and walk around at midnight.  I know where not to be and when not to be there.  Yet maybe one of my neighbors owns an AK47?  Maybe that driver I flip off in frustration on the 580 has a gun on the driver's seat? Who's to know if the person that thinks they deserve the parking spot I've patiently waited for doesn't have a small arms cache in their trunk?

FEAR.  It quickly grips us.  I find myself thinking weird thoughts that I don't usually fathom.  Gutierrez says that FEAR, not doubt, is the opposite of faith.  I don't doubt that Oakland has problems. I don't doubt that Oakland has serious problems and issues with violence [see a Better Oakland].  I do doubt that we have to resolve ourselves to live in fear of our neighbors.  I do doubt that we have to settle for the typical racist rhetoric that I've heard (and will undoubtedly emerge in the forthcoming days) that we have to be weary and leary of  of specific groups, in particular young African-American males.  We can't live in fear.  Isn't that what we're seeing all over the nation?  In the NY Times today "Oakland Looks Warily Ahead After Killings" in Quindlen's Newsweek Editorial "Dollars and Sense".  

What leads us to fear our neighbors?  What leads us to fear that crime and violence is the only option for us? What leads us to fear those that live differently than us, look different or live on the opposite side of town? 
We are not victims even if our culture cries out to us to claim that response in the face of our fears. We all are part of the problem and all have to be part of the solution.  What does that concretely mean?  I don't know.  But the first - and the final - step in the journey is to live by faith, to refuse to live from, by and into fear.

1 comment:

oaklandish said...

Neighbor, I refuse to live in fear and instead choose faith, if not in a commonly recognized higher power, than in humanity. The person next to you may well have a smile instead of an AK. I know I do. Having faith in people and doing all we can is all we can do. But we must put in the work to help our neighbors. Sounds like you already do a lot - THANK YOU. I too am raising children in the Dimond, an area that I love dearly. Let's work to change our gun laws which appears to be an absolute MUST. Nicole