Issue of September 17, 2017
Mt. Province

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An alternative plea

This morning, do not simply ask your children to go home early and be vigilant. Vigilance alone will not rid a city of crimes. A pervading respect for humanity will.

I am young and naive, you say. I will concede only to the former. Naivety and maturity do not depend on age. By now, of course, you must know this.

I am spoiled and sheltered, you mutter. My grandmother used to say we own no land except the dust that clings to the soles of our slippers. But yes, I have been sheltered from reality by my parents for as long as they could. Nonetheless, I have been a victim of street harassment. My years of living in the city’s public market dampened my idealism. Reality offers a harsh education.

Perhaps more than most children, I have been asked by my mother to stay alert and go home as soon as possible. However, I realized that there is a flaw in this practice, which is not to say I oppose responsible parenting. Hence, I would like to present an alternative plea.

Crime strikes without respect to time and place. In fact, crime is devoid of all respect. Especially when the rules are bent to the point of breaking by those who are obliged to keep them straight, nobody is safe.

Crime is not caused by people failing to keep themselves safe. It stems from a failure to understand right and wrong. It is aggravated by notions of superiority over another gender, ethnicity, or social class. Moreover, criminality thrives in environments where the innocent are punished and the guilty can buy their freedom.

Idealism tempers reality; it is not meant to obscure truth. The noble idealist fights to create a more humane world. While it is true that taking precautions won't hurt, they certainly cannot heal.

Today, tell your children that hurting any other person – with a stone, a word, or a kind act left undone – is wrong. Tell them to respect everything and everyone they see on the streets – the beggar, the stray dog, the plants on the sidewalk. Teach them to show kindness to their neighbors instead of prejudice. Teach them to be brave enough to stand for what is right. If you plant in them seeds of fear, you cannot expect to reap valor.

Teach us, sir, madam, the hope your young heart once wished it would never forget. Maybe you could also put in a word or two for your spouse, siblings, and friends.

Perhaps it is then and only then that we can finally walk home at night without turning our head.

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