Monday, December 17, 2012

Strong Communities – Safe Communities

I have recently been watching Mankind:  The Story of All of Us on the History channel.  Through the first four episodes the story of climate change, empires, holy wars, and plague have been presented.  In 2012 there have been a high number of violent incidents reported in our community.  These incidents have ranged from child abductions to mass random shootings targeting movie goers, shoppers, school children and worshipers. 

In the past 30 years, I have also seen new infectious diseases in the form of AIDS and various Ebola virus.  Famine has presented itself in Ethiopia and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa.  War has gripped the planet from Vietnam and Korea, to Afghanistan, and the Middle East.  Genocide has taken place in Darfur.  Death is all around us despite advances in medicine.  Communication has mobilized uprisings to overthrow dictatorships and acts of terror to challenge a people’s way of life.

From the times of Pompeii and earlier, any good fortune or disaster has been a gift or curse from a higher power.  Residents of Pompeii felt the rumblings of Mount Vesuvius prior to its eruption yet did not leave the city.  Similarly residents of the United States see violence, economic disaster, unsustainable ecology, undereducated children, social inequalities, and a gamut of health care challenges from Medicare fraud to lack of access to healthcare.  All of these issues are hard to address.  We have seen the results of hasty poorly written laws such as the Defense of Marriage Act.  We have also seen the ineffectiveness of laws such as the 10 year ban on assault rifles which expired in 2004.

Tragedy is unfortunately the best motivator for change.  In India, one cannot acquire a cell phone without a permanent residence.  This is to prevent coordinated attacks such as 26/11.  The Department of Homeland Security has instituted a number of measures regarding airline travel based on 9/11.  While one can question the effectiveness of these tactics, people did come together and worked towards change.  Yes, airport fees went up. 

Just as there are tools for international relations – diplomacy, information, military, and economic, society’s ills must be addressed with the full tool box.  The majority needs to reach out to religious and political minorities.  There need to be more public service presentations on a modern interpretation of free speech, unreasonable search and seizure, and a well regulated militia.  I am most aware of security forces in the casinos and airports; they need to protect those economies.  I rarely see security forces in schools and religious institutions; there is no money to be protected there.  Idle hands are the devil’s playground.  Unemployment is on the rise and without a purpose or reason to get up in the morning people may be more likely to seek out infamy.  Among males 20-24 years of age, unemployment is at 12.8%, the national average is 7.7%.  This group is becomingly increasingly disenfranchised as the economy is changing and people are getting left behind.

The signs of the apocalypse are all around us.  I think it is time to get to know your neighbors, volunteer in the community and practice religion or spirituality if you choose.  Strong communities are required for safe communities.

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