The Slow Death Of A City I Love

AP_FERGUSON11_140814_DG_4x3_992All I can think about right now are two parents who will wake up tomorrow without their four year old boy. It’s Friday, and that’s always a big deal when you are a kid because the school week is over and it’s almost time to play. The hours fly by and it’s almost time to be free again. After reading this beautifully written piece about a young boy dying in North St. Louis City this week, I had to write about the madness that is overtaking my city. This violence probably happens elsewhere in the country and the world, but these crimes in my city feel close and personal.

(Photo Credit-Robert Cohen, STL Post Dispatch)

The saddest part is I am not even there. I am currently in Little Rock, Arkansas. Every time I hear about a senseless death, I tighten up and become full of rage. It could be the innocent hotel manager dying at the Drury Inn in South City weeks ago because a man decided to walk in, pull a gun and destroy lives. It could be the two cops who were shot last night outside the Ferguson Police Department. The violence in Ferguson that repeats itself due to one kid, Michael Brown, dying. A kid who wasn’t a saint or perfect, but since people need an agenda to push or get behind, they support the protesting and scream things like, “If you had taken care of this two months ago, this wouldn’t happen” in the video taken as the shooting broke out last night outside the Ferguson PD. 

The painful truth in our world is violence breeds other violence. A group of peaceful protesters tried to illustrate their point in a quiet manner last night. Another group thinks it’s fitting and righteous for other people to be shot or killed in order for their point to gain footing. In the end, which group wins? Peaceful or violent protesters? How many people have to die in order for us to understand that innocent life is precious and shouldn’t be lost due to a completely different event.

I didn’t know the two cops or the kid or the parents of the kid. Why then, do I feel so hurt inside? Why do I feel so hurt so far away? It’s horrible and relentless. Some things don’t have to directly link to you in order to affect you. The slain boy was taken to St. Louis Childrens Hospital, so I think of my mom, who is a nurse there. I am close friends with a cop, so any time a police officer is shot for no reason, I think of my friend. One of the cops was taken to Barnes Hospital, where my dad is an X-Ray technician. There are always links that can tie a tragedy to you and the strongest one is your humanity, the ability to feel. In this case, the most evil monster in this world must know what happened this week is a mistake.

The sad truth is it has been going for a long time and it won’t end any time soon. Ferguson is just the latest depiction of worthless violence. It doesn’t show our true colors, but it depicts what humans are capable of and that’s madness. Actions that are born from despair, ignorance and at times, listening to a friend’s take on things and suddenly joining the cause. I wonder what the shooter of the gun whose bullet tore into the four year old boy’s chest is thinking right now. Does he or she know what they did? If they saw the blood stained cops uniform that cradled the poor into the ER, would they feel remorse. The unfortunate logical answer at this time is No. Those people are already gone, resisting the urge to forgive and heal.

That line right there proves this point. Whenever a science fiction buff tells me aliens will one day come to this earth, I disagree. Why? When they fly over and look down at our species and how we treat each other, they will keep going. They want no part of this world. We are animals and full of hate. Most of the hate is natural and it breeds painfully wrong actions. All of us don’t fall under this category, but enough do to make it true. They will want no part of our race. They will fly away. Far away. Who wants to come down here and be next to a world where four year boys catch bullets in the chest and die for no reason. Who wants to shackle themselves to a city I knew as wonderful once but now see falling apart and becoming a violent war zone?  A place where you can’t walk outside with your family without the fear of “this could be bad” haunting every step. Aliens, or whatever life is out there looking down on us, are frowning or at the very least, scared to look too close.

Eventually, I will move back to St. Louis. In 2 or 3 years, possibly more. What kind of city will await me? The city belongs to others but I grew up there. I grew up off Kingshighway and Tholozan, right in the heart of the city. I used to play on this streets as a kid and my parents moved us to Brentwood because of the threat of violence. Over 25 years later, the threat has grown larger. When I move back, will I be able to take my son out for sports and park activities? What city awaits my return? How much blood shed will occur between now and that time? I don’t even want to think about it.

Every time I look at my son today I’ll think of that boy. He probably didn’t have a care in the world as he played. He was thinking about his friends, the next thrill, or maybe the fact that no matter what, life would happen tomorrow. He’d get another shot to have even more fun. He had no idea he was wrong.

I wish people would understand the toll one death takes on a family and be able to burn into their mind that violence shouldn’t breed more violence. That isn’t the proper way to heal.

Thanks for reading,


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