Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Disrespectful Eyes

To my son Tommy,

I would like to share a quote of a quote I found in an article written by crime reporter Justin George for a Baltimore Sun website about the violence this year in Baltimore.  (it may have been in print to but I found it on the web)
Owens said he knows what’s causing the violence. It’s not drugs or money, though they are fuel. Triggers are pulled over “respect” — and it doesn’t take much.
“It can be words,” he said. “It can be eyes. Eyes can be disrespectful. I know it sounds crazy but it’s true.”
Turn the other cheek today and someone will take advantage of you tomorrow.
“At the end of the day, if someone feels disrespected, what’s the first thing they think about?” he said. http://darkroom.baltimoresun.com/2013/08/crime-story/#7 
I thought this was very telling and gave more insight than I could ever find about the problems that face our city and our community.  The quoted young man has lost three of his friends to violence in three years.  His story and the story of his lost friends and the insight from his words made me extremely sad.

The media and the politicians and the police force all point to this and that and that and this as the cause of our problems and tell us how they will solve it.  But my question is how do we cure it? How do you reach into someone's heart and teach them that true respect starts with respect for themselves and respect for life?  How do you show someone that you don't need to posture and be tough and have street cred to survive when they have a million examples of just the opposite?  Prisoners who are just trying to survive their time learn to always look down and not make eye contact in case someone misconstrues disrespect.  Are the Baltimore streets no better than a prison?  How can we teach that you don't need to kill to seem strong when our own nation is considering missile strikes so it doesn't seem weak?  I don't know the answers to these questions but I know as a society and a community these are the questions we should be focusing on, instead of which child actor is twerking her dignity away.

I promise to raise you with enough self-respect that you won't even consider taking a life for the disrespectful (real or imagined) way someone looks at you.  You will respect God, the law, life, and most of all yourself more than your pride or how others think of you and how you look.  You will not throw away your life or the life of others because you thought you would seem weak for inaction.  If we could get every father in Baltimore to make this same promise, this same pledge, perhaps then we could start to make a difference.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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