We live in a sphere of hypocrisy, in a world of vanity, lawless judgement and self-deified proclamations. It is within this sphere that we find the cries and fires of Baltimore, and the void within the hearts of those who condemn the condemned. This is the burning, and this is the problem.
Having traveled the globe, having seen third-world conditions first-hand as a young Marine, I had my eyes opened then to the world as it exists beyond the confines of my very limited world view at the time. It was then clear to me that the class and caste system that I saw in these countries creates a vast polarization between the privileged people, and those people who are less fortunate. At the age of 18, I was unaware that this class system existed in my home country, but as I became older, and more aware, it became all too evident that this is the truth in this country as well. Though this truth, this hard reality, is overlooked and not understood even by its own people, it is a truth that we all abide, and live by. Even though the people of our inner cities, our unseen neighbors, are dying; even though these communities are in extreme peril, some even uninhabitable, we still turn to our own pride and hypocrisy to explain the system and turn a blind eye to the problem that permeates our entire world.
This is a reality that has existed long before me, one that has existed for centuries. Truth be told, many of us who live in the United States have no experience or understanding of these extremely impoverished conditions, yet they exist right here, in our own cities, in some cases just a few blocks from our very doorsteps. And, these conditions exist in the same fashion as those of lesser privileged nations, sometimes much worse.
I’ve heard all of the rhetoric. We’ve heard it all many times, and it is the same diatribe each and every time. And while the media continues to propagate the carnage, only continuously looping images and video of the same fires, the same bottle throwing and the same looting, they miss the thousands of people that peacefully marched, they miss the message that this community is desperately trying to speak about, and they fuel the fire and rage already burning inside the community, as it has for generations.
And what’s more, here’s the generic quote of the day spoken by thousands like a flock of well trained parrots:
“There’s no excuse for this thuggish violence.” Of course there isn’t an excuse.
However, this is what happens when the lawlessness of the representative body is imposed upon its own people. This lawlessness is then reflected tenfold by its people onto its representative body. This is the outcry of a subdued and impoverished community. This is the outcry of Baltimore, and thousands of other communities in our country. This is the result of decades of failed policy, empty rhetoric and the lack of empathy for fellow man. The last of which is the underlying problem throughout the world.
It’s so easy to say that people should strive to do better for themselves, that they can make better lives if they just try. It’s so easy to say that if I can do it, you can do it too. I’ve heard it over and over. “I came from the streets, nobody helped me.” Or, “I came from a a poor family, and look at me now.” Well, good for you. Now, help someone else since you’re doing so well.
If we must live in communities where people only help themselves, what’s the point of a community?
Places like that of Baltimore, New Orleans, Detroit, D.C., Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, and Miami and many, many others all have a common inner city problem. This problems stems from the lack of empathy, representation, and support from the “governing bodies” that are in place to protect and nurture these communities. These communities have no jobs. People sell drugs or sell their own bodies to survive. These communities have little to no education systems in place, or if they do, no teachers willing to do the tough job, walk through the neighborhood or interact with the people. These communities have no representation, as though they’ve been excommunicated from the city itself, yet most of these neighborhoods are less than a few blocks from their respective city halls.
When did people become so self-righteous, so self-absorbed, so vain and so hypocritical that the word of the day is to condemn these communities to the peril in which they already live?
If we cannot see beyond our own porch steps, beyond the smoke from the liquor store, beyond the fires from the CVS, and far beyond the pile of ash and cinder that once was a church and finally acknowledge that the problem is not in these neighborhoods alone, but in the hearts of all the people that surround them, then we as a human race, as a communal and social people are doomed to our own hands.
I truly hope for change. But this change is one that requires a change of heart, and of consciousness. It is a change that must begin within each and every person.
Maybe one day, we’ll all look at our own reflection and forget to see ourselves, and instead, see our neighbors.