The other day I was checking the Homicide Blog when I noticed the banner at the top of the page showed a happy couple enjoying a beautiful sunset in an ad for the Ritz Carlton. What a crazy juxtaposition.
Things have been fairly quiet lately in our neighborhood, though some areas immediately surrounding us have suffered a great deal of violence. Our senior lead officer reported that there was a shooting south of us that resulted in a retaliatory shooting just two blocks form our house. Three people were shot in the head, but remarkably no one was seriously injured. I am not quite sure how that is possible, but I am thankful.
The Fourth was really, really loud, and Aaron was not a fan of “the hitting” as he called the large and frequent explosions around us. It is amazing how loud a string of M-80s can be, especially when you are laying in a toddler bed holding your crying son. We spent the afternoon around the corner with friends, eating good food and drinking some yummy “grown up lemonade” (aka, Mojitos). The kids were in their swimsuits until almost nine o’clock, and Mercy loved the colors and lights of everything form the sparklers to the big showy fireworks from the Coliseum nearby.
The next day I was talking with a neighbor and I found out that some kids who have been back in the neighborhood lately, whom I have enjoyed talking to and spending time with outside lately, pulled a guy out of a car while it was moving and beat him with a baseball bat. At two o’clock in the afternoon. In front of our house.
One of the things that always strikes me is that almost incomprehensible juxtaposition between what childhood and youth should look like and what I see happen around me in the lives of our young people: kids who one moment are throwing water balloons and playing on skateboards and the next, beating someone’s head in with a bat. What kind of raging conflict and confusion they must have inside of them.
I remember a book I read in college about the Henry Horner Housing project in Chicago where I volunteered. It was titled: “There Are no Children Here.” Sometimes that is how I feel, when I hear kids talk about what their lives have been, and when I consider what they have witnessed and absorbed. And yet they do still function as children: they play; they get excited about the ice cream truck; they tease and laugh and flirt. They are still children, but children living beneath shadows of things that seek to rob and kill and destroy. They are surrounded by loud and scary things, and many of them do not have the comfort of someone to hold them while they cry in the dark. But there are children here.