Chicago, Stop this Killing

Non-Violence, sculpture by Carl Fredrik Reuterswald, image by freshwater2006

Non-Violence, sculpture by Carl Fredrik Reuterswald, image by freshwater2006

As the gun control debate rages on in Washington, people are getting shot and killed daily in Chicago.  Just this last week, a friend posted this news blurb about two kids that got shot.  The young girl, 15yo, someone she knew, died.  Horrifying. I cried for this girl I never knew.  For that moment, what has become a numbing statistic for Chicagoans, jumped to real life just knowing someone who knew her.

I don’t know if folks in my neighborhood of Chicago are thinking that much of the daily shooting statistics.  It would be cruel for me to suggest that they aren’t as horrified as I am.  Yet, I’m not terrified of letting my daughter walk to the grocery store.  I’m not paranoid to leave my house after dark.  I’m going to take a gamble that most of my neighbors don’t live with the same fear, because these shootings don’t happen in my neighborhood.

Just as horrifying was the first comment on the page written by some yahoo, “we need a national guard sweeping of these ghettos.”

I cried again for the attitude held by so many people that this isn’t our problem because it doesn’t happen in the “nice” neighborhoods.  I’ve walked down the streets where this young girl was killed.  My daughter (along with the President Obama’s daughter) danced on stage at the high school that was only a couple blocks away.  I only name drop because I want you all to envision that even the president of our country values this community.  I remember driving through the area dumbstruck at the beauty of the architecture.  There are tidy lawns and beautiful, mature trees.  I saw parents enjoying their Sunday afternoons with their neighbors and kids.  While I don’t know the area enough to say all is wine and roses along leafy avenues, there are beautiful people living there.  Those good folks, their parents, their children, their friends all have as much right to live free from violence as the rest of us.  There is no us and them.  For every victim that falls, that life of possibility, hope and strength can no longer contribute to our shared community.

Frankly, violence spreads.  Just today, a woman was found shot to death on Lakeshore Drive, not terribly far from my home.  None of us are immune.

Ignorance, fear and hate will continue to prevent any possible, positive change to happen.  For every individual that feels they need a gun to protect themselves out of fear, strengthens the machine that makes guns so readily available to those who use them for intentional harm.  I’ve heard people say that gun control laws just keep guns out of the hands of the lawfully abiding citizens and keeps them readily available to the criminals.  I don’t believe it.  In Chicago where it was illegal to posses a firearm, one can drive ten minutes into Indiana, go to a gun show, and come out fully loaded without very little (none?) background checks.

I know there is so much more to this violence than gun control.  Poverty.  Drugs.  Mental illness.  I know.  But please, Chicago, stop killing each other.

Something’s gotta be done.

Road Rants – Letting Out or Letting Go?

I’m afraid to even mention this on the Internet for fear that word will catch on and destroy the secret to my morning commute, but considering I have about 6 readers, perhaps it won’t be such a moment – Lower Wacker Drive is open.  That lovely, subterranean tunnel that snakes around downtown Chicago, has been reopened after a lengthy reconstruction.  Lovely and harrowing all the same.  It is not a route for the faint of heart.  Entrances appear without warning.  Exits disappear into sketchy alleys or dead ends.  Proper signage is almost extinct.  I have seen men fully exposed as they relieve themselves against its walls (ew).  Hustlers appear from nowhere just when a light turns red and if you pause at the wrong moment, a cacophony of car horns will convince you otherwise.

Entering the Underworld

Entering the Underworld

No, Lower Wacker Drive is not for the faint of heart.  Yet it is my favorite, speedy, underground passage.  I think I’m clever that I know it’s secrets.  The bat caves of Chicago.

It is also the place that I curse the most.  Because I have taken great care to learn and navigate it’s passageways, I expect others to do the same.  It’s an auto response that I do not take pride in.  It’s harmless, right?  The kids aren’t in the car, I get to let it all out, no one can hear me.  But when I finally got around that car that paused at every hole in the wall, I realized that I must have cursed more in the last five minutes than I had all weekend.


Cursing causes no relief.  I think it just makes me a surly, erratic, explosive person.  Just another wretched urbanite, hostile at the interloper.  Tourists!  (I actually love tourists – weird, I know.)

Expressing rage by letting it out only makes it easier to do the next time, like when the kids are in the car (oops – don’t say that at school, sweetie).  Not so cute when the 4yo says the s, d and occasional f word.  Yikes.  It’s like practicing a habit, only not such a great habit.  Each time a fierce word is said in frustration and anger, it is reinforced for that next moment.  Holding it in, well, maybe that’s not so great either.

I’m thinking that trying to empathize with that driver who is lost, confused, baffled by the enclosed tunnels would be an exercise of letting go, instead of letting it out.  It feels awful to have expressed a verbal assault on someone, then drive by and realize the driver is about 80, barely peering over the dashboard.  Haven’t we all been that slow, uncertain driver at one point?  In a strange place?  What can be stranger than Lower Wacker?

Better to slow down, get around, in through the nose, out through the mouth.  Sigh.  Get home safely.

And now, for something completely silly…

photoTurtle sightings in the Chicago Underworld.