|Duct tape covering a bullet hole in the front window of the Common Cup|
The Other Side of Life in Rogers Park
If you are a regular follower of this blog, or if you know me in the non-digital world, you know that i love my neighborhood. From the minute i moved to Rogers Park, i knew that i was home. This neighborhood has so much that is beautiful, eclectic, vibrant, and all-around wonderful. But, unfortunately, there is another, much grimmer aspect to Rogers Park -- gang violence. The media never talks about it: they focus their accounts of gang warfare and random outbursts of gunfire on the south and west sides of Chicago, and ignore what is happening here and in other north side neighborhoods. Admittedly, the problem is much worse in those other areas, but it is bad enough here that i sometimes dread the arrival of spring since it invariably is marked by an upsurge in crime and gang violence. Today, at a little past noon, there was a drive-by shooting at the corner of Greenview and busy Morse Avenue, two blocks from where i live. A bullet went through the window of the Common Cup, a normally peaceful and laid-back café. Fortunately, no one in the café was injured, but it shattered the illusion of safety, the feeling that you can let your guard down long enough to enjoy a latte and a slice of pie.
I hate this, hate that there are young men who hold their own lives in such low regard that they will risk losing those lives to a bullet or a prison cell over something as trivial as a patch of sidewalk. There has to be some way of reaching these kids, of channeling all that energy and passion into life instead of death. When something like this happens to temporarily shake me out of my complacency, i think of all those people living in even worse neighborhoods, places where this kind of thing is a daily occurrence, places where children cannot play in the fresh air and are trained not to even sit by the front window lest they fall prey to a stray bullet. We deserve better, all of us.