Someone tried to assault me Monday – to seriously do me harm – and I was fortunate enough to get away. I had, foolishly, left home without any method of defense, lethal or non-lethal, and so consider myself fortunate to have gotten out of there by the skin of my teeth. I was working the other business at the time, and afterward I reflected that I had risked my life for less money than it takes to purchase a Happy Meal at McDonald’s. I confess that’s a bit unsettling. What’s even more unsettling is that if I had been carrying some self-defense device I would have deployed it. That, in turn, would have escalated the situation in the neighborhood and the vicious cycle would have been started and no doubt would have moved full speed ahead to an undesirable conclusion.
Having had some time to reflect, I haven’t stumbled across any easy answers. People with little to control will violently control what little they have – that’s a given. My choice to counter-attack wouldn’t have changed the culture anymore than building a wall around our urban areas (ala “Escape from New York”) wouldn’t solve anything, either. Both responses come from a place of knee jerk reaction, and the results have more jerk than knee to them.
The solution is to change the culture, and I am convinced the only way to change the culture is to change economic conditions. There will always be those who say that such solutions simply reward bad behavior and change nothing. Such claims are based in a profound selfishness that has no contact with the real world, no idea what it’s like to live in poverty, no idea to know what it’s like to sit around with nothing to do all day. We can call people like the young man who attacked me animals – but do we recognize that we are placing them in sub-human conditions while standing guard over every exit? If you treat people like animals, they will become animals. If you treat them like valuable children of God, they become precisely that.
We need to change things and we need to start right now. So much damage has been done that it will take a long time to turn the tide – but every second we wait means that it will take even longer to see any change. What are we waiting for, why do we listen to politicians and self-appointed social critics to see the light before we start acting? History has shown that the government won’t change anything until we demand a change – and the truth is the overwhelming majority of Americans stand a good chance of becoming a victim of either our economic mess or those who live in the middle of it or both. In light of that reality, do you really care what the Donald Trumps of the world want you to believe? Are our children not worth more to us than the ability of the wealthiest 1% to increase their fortunes?