Thursday, May 31, 2012

We have to do better.

So things have been a bit crazy for me as of late. I have been looking for more permanent employment and now have multiple offers to choose from. A wonderful opportunity has been offered to my husband which will have a major impact on our lives. Last night I was robbed at gunpoint. Yes things have been crazy.

I am pretty certain that anyone reading this is now focusing your interest on the robbery so that's what I will discuss in this post.

I was on my way to one of my favorite bars in town. It is a divey gay bar, nothing like the flashy, techno music filled gay bars you see on TV that are populated with buff, shirtless, men. It isn't in the best part of town, but I have never felt unsafe there, heck I don't live in the best part of town and I feel safe in my own neighborhood so there is no reason I would feel unsafe at this bar. So I pull into the parking lot while talking to my husband on my cell phone. I see that my normal parking space directly in front of the building is occupied and so I take a parking spot under a street light next to the road. I am sitting in my car finishing up my conversation when I hear loud voices screaming for me to open the door and fists pounding on my driver side window. Having people approach you asking for money or a cigarette is not uncommon at this bar so I wasn't too worried and I certainly wasn't going to open the door. Then I saw the gun.

Standing outside my car were two kids, literally they were maybe 15 years old, they were so young that I took a quick second glance at the gun to make sure it didn't have an orange tip on the barrel indicating it was a toy. Sadly it was the real thing and so I decided the best thing I could do was follow their instructions and hope for the best. They screamed for me to give them my money. I took out my wallet which one of them quickly grabbed and emptied of the small amount of cash in it before tossing it to the ground. I was then told to empty my pockets which I did while saying that I only had a cigarette lighter, apparently this was something else they were in need of since they took that as well. The next thing I heard was "I need that too" as my cell phone, still connected to my husband's phone, was ripped out of my hand. Then as quickly as it started it was over with the two kids running off into the distance.

I grabbed my wallet, thankfully they had only grabbed my cash and not my credit cards or driver's license, walked into the bar and asked the bar tender to call the police. Within minutes the bar's parking lot took on the appearance of a police station during a shift change as it was filled with patrol cars, unmarked cars driven by detectives, and even two cars from the K-9 unit. They took down a considerable amount of information, walked the dogs around the area, took finger prints from my car, spoke with the bar tender and then left. As I tried to calm down I called my husband back to let him know I was OK and to try and calm him down as well. I then went into the bar where my friends consoled me, bought me drinks, and offered me money.

I am really lucky. I lost some cash and a cell phone (although I really miss that phone after spending a day with my old cell phone) but I was alive and reminded that a lot of people care very much for me and that God is looking out for me. Yes, I am very lucky. I wish I could say the same for the two young men who robbed me.

I do hope that the police are able to catch my assailants, if they get away with this it will simply reinforce their behavior. But I can't help thinking about what led them to this point. I would say that neither of my attackers were over the age of 15 and while they ultimately bear the responsibility for their actions we can't understand how they got to the point of thinking that armed robbery is acceptable or unavoidable without understanding that our society, our economy, our education system, our family structures, our churches, and all of the rest of us have failed these kids. If they are at this point this early in their lives what does the future hold for them? If they are caught what is the chance that they will find rehabilitation? What are the chances that will simply learn to be more effective criminals? Some may say that is simply luck that I was born into a white, middle class, suburban environment and bad luck caused my robbers to be born into completely different circumstances. Luck is one way of describing it, I believe recognizing it as injustice is more accurate.

If you look around the world you will see that the places with the highest poverty levels and the areas with the highest levels of income inequality are the areas with the highest crime rates. We have made the conscious decision that in America we are OK with economic injustices as long as we don't feel we are personally effected by them or as long as we can hold onto our fantasies of over coming them. This means that we have decided that we are also OK with people suffering because of no fault of their own. We are OK with people being trapped in addiction and not having the resources to extract themselves from their chemical prisons. We are OK with people dying from easily treated illnesses because they can't afford the care that they need. Because we are OK with all of these thing we must realize that we are also OK with the property and violent crimes they spawn. We can, to a great extent, solve our nation's crime problem, but we don't want to. The police, no matter how hard they work, can really only respond to crimes once they are committed, they are almost completely unable to prevent crimes. We, as a society, can prevent crimes but apparently we don't want to. We are satisfied to just complain about crime without doing anything about it and to see the lives of people like the two kids who robbed me ruined. We are the land of the incarcerated and the home of the afraid. We have to do better.