Monday, July 31, 2006

The future...as if it really mattered

As I was watching Meet the Press, something caught my ear. Tom Friedman, a New York Times reporter, wrote a book (From Beruit to Jerusalem) after spending time in the Middle East. He explained, "These are people who hate others more than they love their own kids; more than they love their own future." I wonder if this couldn't be applied to some of the kids in our inner cities. Kids and teenagers are in such dire situations (some self-inflicted, but others that have been created for them before they were even born) that I believe their sense of resentment and hatred may be stronger than their love for their future. Resentment and hatred is much more tangible that believing in the future.

Friedman went on to say, "The role of America is to be the guiding light there."

My question is:

How do we expect the United States to take care of another country's business when we can't handle our own?

A while back I read a book by James Garbarino, Children in Danger. The book compares our inner city war zones to those in Beruit, Belfast, and Mozambique. There isn't much difference.

Characteristics Garbarino mentions of war-torn foreign countries:

  • malnourishment
  • witnessing/knowing about violent deaths
  • lack of emotion
  • anger

In Mozambique, 42% of adolescents (out of 119 surveyed) had witnessed a murder. In some housing projects in the United States, up to 33% had witnessed a murder. Many more knew someone who had been killed, even if they hadn't witnessed it.

Though Tom Friedman continued to talk about our conflict overseas, we might could learn something from his theory:

"We've got to find another way...Listening is a sign of respect...If you just go over and listen to people and what they have to say, it's amazing... But when you just say we're not gonna go to Damascus, we're not going to listen to the Syrians, you're never going to get anywhere that way. I'm not guaranteeing you you're going to get somewhere the other way, but all I know, you sure increase the odds if you sit down and just listen."

Has anyone ever thought about listening to people in the inner city?? Friedman made the comment that what we're doing in the Middle East isn't working, so it can't hurt to try something different. I would argue that it's the same for our inner cities right here in the United States.

"Listening is a sign of respect."

Allow me to reiterate what Friedman said and apply it to our inner cities.

"I'm not guaranteeing you you're going to get somewhere the other way, but all I know, you sure increase the odds if you sit down and just listen."
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