The BBC recently made a short documentary titled 'The lost streets of Chicago'. It's less than 15 minutes long, but it reveals the tragic reality of inner-city life there. It's worth your time to watch it. After you've done so, I'll have a few things to say about it.
Finished it? Well, think about these things.
- How many families did you see - fathers, mothers and children all living together? There were virtually none. Family life is largely non-existent in our inner-city ghettoes. The result is that children grow up without the role models of father, mother and family stability that the rest of us take for granted. That, in turn, feeds the nihilistic self-destructiveness of ghetto life.
- Notice how everybody blames everyone except themselves for the problems. It's always someone else's fault - the Man, the gangs, the system, the police, etc. If it isn't some one else, it's some thing else: drugs, or guns, or whatever. No-one's willing to say, "The problem starts with me, and if I want to change it, I have to start by changing myself."
- Notice, too, how everyone simply goes along with the daily routine. They accept the problems as a fact of life, and wait for outside intervention to deal with them. They won't - perhaps they believe they can't - do anything about them for themselves. In most of the places I've lived, that attitude is conspicuous by its absence. If that sort of violence began to creep in, neighbors would form watches to keep an eye on their own streets. If some individuals didn't adhere to the unspoken social compact, they wouldn't be around for long . . . one way or another. (See, for example, how we kept order in Louisiana after Hurricane Gustav in 2008. What's stopping inner-city locals doing the same for their own communities?)
- The people involved are human beings, with human feelings, emotions, etc. However, when they get together in their gangs - as demonstrated by the rapping youngsters waving guns at the camera - they stifle those feelings and emotions, and become high on a group dynamic of destructive behavior. The police and the authorities, of course, respond to those groups as groups, rather than as individuals - so those in need of help to change don't get it, because they're never addressed as individuals. It's a no-win situation for both sides.
- Basically, the authorities don't care. They could stop this nonsense almost overnight by cracking down hard; but that would take a large investment of money, and time, and staff, and a lot of hard work. They don't have those things to spare . . . so they ignore the reality of the situation, and paper over the cracks.
Food for thought, indeed.