It will take a great number of things to break the cycle of violence in American cities.
The first and most important thing is the right spirit.
They had it Sunday in Augusta – at the second Stop the Violence Rally at the Henry Brigham Community Center – thanks to rally creator Lucresha Thomas and a growing cadre of supporters. It also helps that Thomas had more time to plan this event, which she hopes will be annual. The first one, in 2015, was thrown together quickly after a series of shootings.
The spirit of the event is, simply, that nothing will change until we cause it to.
The challenge, of course, is that urban violence is a national scourge with deep and varied causes: family breakdown; entertainment media and cultural tolerance for, and even glorification of, violence; hopelessness and a lack of meaning; economic challenges; spiritual voids due to the ebb of church influence over the decades; drugs, made more available and affordable by a porous southern border, and more.
These ills are chronic and systemic. And the national media don’t help, with their failure to report on the root causes of violence. We seem to believe today that any sort of behavior is OK, and that there shouldn’t be any accountability to the individual – only to society.
Indeed, a new law in Oregon requires insurers, or the state, to provide free abortions to all, even illegal immigrants. Consequence-free living as the law of the land. Do what you like; we’ll pick up the tab!
Meanwhile, watching the health-care debate in Washington one has to wonder: Do patients have any responsibility whatsoever for their health and lifestyle? If so, what responsibility do they have?
Where in the world has individual responsibility gone, except out the window?
This is the second thing necessary for a turnaround in American violence: responsibility. Parents, take responsibility for bringing your kids up right. Fathers and mothers, take responsibility for your actions that cause children to come into the world in the first place.
Exhibiting responsibility is in the individual’s own best interest, as well as society’s. Statistics show that, most often, staying out of poverty and out of trouble is not rocket science: Stay off drugs, get married and stay married, and don’t get pregnant until then.
The odds of bringing children into poverty – and likely other social ills – nose-dive in two-parent families: A report by the Heritage Foundation notes that “Marriage drops the probabililty of childhood poverty by 82 percent” – from 36.5 percent to 6.4 percent.
Stated another way, avoiding unwed births and getting married gives you a nearly 94 percent chance of avoiding poverty.
Yet, ironically, before President Johnson’s government “War on Poverty” in the 1960s, 93 percent of children were born to a married couple; today the number has plummeted to the 50th-percentile.
This is not an Augusta problem. In fact, in many ways we’ve got it better than most. But we love that people like Lucresha Thomas, Board of Education member Wayne Frazier and others want to take this on.
They need all of our help.