Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Homicide, Lil Wayne, and Christ.

       Working at Orr Academy High school has been a great pleasure thus far. While grading papers today, a multitude of sirens blasted past the school heading North on Pulaski. I turned around quickly and looked out the window. Seeing ambulance, fire trucks, and police race down the road.When I say race, I mean these sirens were going like someone just got shot. I turn back around anticipating the students to be looking out the window as well. These kids get distracted so easy from their work, I just knew they would be. I mean how could they not, it was extremely loud and its not like you hear that all the time... right? Wrong, they did not turn around in fact no one even mentioned like "oh sirens" or "hope they ok"... Nothing. For those who grew up in Hermiston, Oregon, like me, I remember that being a huge occasion. You didn't hear sirens often. I know this isn't a far comparison. Chicago is way different then a small town in Oregon. True, but why? Size for one. Demographics, Of course. Amount of poverty? Yes. Other then that, how is the west side of Chicago so different when it comes to how children react to hearing sirens? The only explanation I could think of was, they are used to it. 
     Before I jump to conclusions... lets be realistic. Those sirens could of been for anything, car crash, old man fell, house fire, etc.. Or they could of been for a shooting, stabbing, etc. Back in Hermiston, the latter is more expected. But in the west side, it is the other way around. So far in the year 2011 there has been 392 recorded homicides in Chicago. That is not 392 shootings, but 392 people dead from either a shooting, stabbing, or assault. In my neighborhood alone, West Garfield there has been 12. West Garfield's official boundaries stretch from Kenton  to Hamlin east to west which is almost exactly 1 mile. North to south being, Kinzie  to about Taylor, roughly 1.3 miles. 12 homicides in that small of a radius, in one year? The numbness of the students in the class room to sirens sparked this thought process in my mind today. Why so many murders here? Why is this a reality for urban, African American, and Hispanic communities in the United states ? Before you make assumptions, follow me through why I think it is. 
    Ask yourself what has killed the most people worldwide recently?  The answer would be infectious diseases,  Leprosy, Cholera, Typhoid, Small pox, The Plague, and Violence (war). All of these things have over whelmed us at one point in time, yet have been over come the first set for the most part. The reason we have over come those diseases is not because of general progress or the right choices, but of scientific research. We at one point thought those who had these diseases were evil and made the wrong choices in life. At the time it was looked at as it was in their DNA, not a passing disease.Also these people who had the Plague were set a fire or sent into dungeons, and in contrast People who didn't have the disease did not want to grow through the neighborhoods where this disease was in full effect. Why did people react to people with this disease respond like this? Because they did not know what was going on.They didn't know why because they couldn't see it. the bacteria that caused the disease was invisible. At the time they didn't have the technology to see bacteria, something that was invisible to the naked eye.I think we can draw a connection between extreme cultural violence and epidermic diseases. Extreme cultural violence spreads like an infectious disease throughout communities and is learned as a way of life. I am not making the direct connection to The Plague and a singular homicide or the root of violence, they are different. Violence itself is in our DNA, it is our human condition. Who taught a 2 year old to hit the other 2 year old because he took his toy? No one did, it is natural. Humans knows what is right from wrong, but some peoples levels of moral consciousness are not as black and white due to their ecosystem. Patterned Behavior is developed by what we see has humans. It is copied unconsciously by what is around us, what is molded. If a person is raised in this area where they're in this cloud of Extreme cultural violence, they will come in contact with it. If a person comes in contact with extreme cultural violence from a young age and matures through it, they themselves will become a part of it. This idea of behavioral pattern making needs no book to tell us how to follow. It is natural. The maintainer of this behavior pattern is what other people expect of you. This would lead to the thinking that the main cause of cultural violence is that someone in your peer group expects it of you. The principal determent of behavior is what you think others expect of you. In the same sense the principal determent of violence is what others expect of that person who commits the violent act.  This extreme cultural violence is learned by watching and encouraged by norms set by peers. What escalates these norms are outside social accelerators. My students listen to lil wayne all day long. Lil wayne is an outside social accelerator to violent behavior. Lil wayne is just product of this behavioral development. Lil wayne is a outside social accelerator because he has a huge platform and people unconsciously copy his words in their minds and their actions. Here is an example of some lyrics from a song called."Grove St. Party"

>Gotta kill the witnesses cause Birdman car red
Hollygrove Monster, Eagle Street preacherCome to your funeral, kill everybody but the preacher

 Kids who are already susceptible to violence have this put in their head all day, how can anything good come from it. 

     So is Lil wayne the cause of extreme cultural violence? No. The Human condition causes violent nature + Environment in which we grow up in = Extreme Cultural Violent tendencies. These patterns of violence will continue, if not interpreted. There needs to be an intervention. No physical, educational, or no amount of resources can change the root of violence. If we want to get to that, we must look at the human soul. It is depraved and in need of renewing.  The environmental changes are much harder and broad to fix. We need to forget the environment and fix the person. If you fix the person, the environment changes.  The only thing that changes a person is Christ. 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 cor. 5:17

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 
Romans 12:1-2

Christ is the prince of peace. Even in the hood. 


  1. Great post Mitch. It is encouraging to see you explore (lack of) Christ in culture.

  2. I appreciate your analysis, Mitch. It's an indication of shallow thinking, bordering on ignorance, to entirely blame environment on our society's culture of violence, yet to entirely dismiss environment as a major influence is also shallow thinking.

    For sure, the solution must begin with our hearts, and the hearts of our children. Changed hearts will change outside influences, changing our society.