Think You’re in Heaven But You’re Living in Hell…

I always like to point out the great things about the neighborhoods we live in. However, I won’t shy away from some of the less savory aspects as well. This afternoon, Sunday, at 12:42 pm, I was sitting on my neighbors’ porch casually chatting. And a beautiful Sunday it was, sun shining, nice brisk autumn air, finally…when all of sudden BLAM, BLAM, BLAM! Now, I am, unfortunately, no stranger to gunshots. We both looked at each other in disbelief. I refused to believe I heard gunshots at 12:42 pm on a Sunday afternoon. But two seconds later my neighbor and I heard and saw a car screeching as it fled from the shooting. (Ed. note: all that was seen was the color of the car which was reported to the police.) I called 911 to report the shooting. What disturbs me even more than the shooting itself was how calm my neighbor and I were. It was as though we just heard an ice cream truck passing. I mean my adrenaline did not even raise an iota. What type of world are we living in when gunshots on a Sunday afternoon don’t even phase you? And these shots were close, on Taylor street right around the corner from where I was sitting. I should’ve been freaked out.

So who do we blame? This was another case of gang on gang violence. I heard that two people were shot but I don’t know the accuracy of that hearsay. As sad as is it is to have any loss of life, I do take solace in knowing that it was not a random shooting. But word as bond, there is bound to be retaliation and thus the cycle of violence continues. And innocent bystanders do get shot from time to time, whether it is 6 year old girl sitting on her front porch or a grandmother sitting in her own living room. This violence can not be accepted as the price we pay for living “in the city” or more specifically for living in Petworth. My adrenaline should’ve been racing, this should have been terrifying. We can not, myself included obviously, grow complacent. We can’t just say “oh it is the drug dealers just killing each other.” Hell no. Where is the accountability? It is not just a police problem. It is a community problem. And I’ve seen these “drug dealers”, half of them are just kids who barely have a whisker on their chins. And so quite frankly, I partly blame the parents. Sure, there are some kids who just can’t be contained but I truly believe it all starts at home. But then I think of the Notorious B.I.G. who sings back in ’93 “Back in the day our parents used to take care of us but look at ’em now, they’re even fucking scared of us…”. So maybe the parents can’t control their kids at a certain point. So what can be done to stop this vicious cycle of violence. I don’t want to feel like I’m living in Beirut circa 1982. This issue goes deep and we need our politicians to step up and start addressing the problem honestly. No pandering, no quick easy solutions, but a real, strategic well thought out long term plan. What do you guys think needs to be done?

Bob Marley sings “Think you’re in heaven but you’re living in hell, oh time alone, oh time will tell.” Indeed, time will tell. I choose to believe we are closer to living in heaven than hell but we won’t be for long when a shooting at 12:42 pm on a Sunday afternoon seems normal.

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