New Orleans violence: Conversation’s role?

Gangs roaming the streets of New Orleans, people shooting at the helicopters trying to evacuate the Super Dome: this is something directly out of a disaster movie. People are becoming angry, but some are also violent. Then there are stories of overwhelming sharing and caring and sacrifice for other humans. The depths of humans and the human species is brought out.

The looting, the gang turf wars–is there a role for conversation? The role is up front, before the disaster comes, to help people see that they are one with the others around them, trying to do the best they can, the others are not other but their own kind, trying to help, nothing and no one to be feared. This has to happen one and two at a time. No government program will resolve it, but parents must talk to their toddlers, must sit and read with them, must meet with other toddlers and parents, grade schools need to get past the us vs them way of teaching, one person in front of the class doling out the good stuff to the dummies with their minds out, kids must learn from talking and sitting and doing with one another, pre-teens working on projects, learning first hand that people can and do care, learning how to be with others. Then, when the storm comes, they are ready to help not harm, they do not see it as a chance to get even or get more than their share, grab the gusto, but a chance to be their highest selves, and that is together.

But even after the storm, we need to make the effort, hard as it might be, to reach out to those inclined to violence and taking to seek their help, to show how they are important and to see other people as important too. It means approaching them not as an enemy but as one off the path.

Perhaps those who work in the prisons, have much better ideas and insight.

It has been coming home to me in many ways in the past week that there are no easy solutions. To ask How is often to ask “What magic pill can I give to this situation that will solve it once for all time?” and of course there is no such thing. It takes hard work. More than that it takes engagement.

And that over time. This is the eternal vigilance that George Washington reminded us of 2 centuries ago. Engagement over time.

:- Doug.

Published in: Conversations | on September 3rd, 2005 | No Comments »

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