Violence and violent crime is at the top of just about everyone’s mind these days. That’s understandable, though. It’s one of the big headlines every day somewhere in this nation and is set to be a major determiner for November’s elections.
In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, folks want to put an end to the violence, and they’re trying all kinds of things to stop it.
Dozens of tee shirts cover the front lawn of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church at the corner of 19th and Market streets in Harrisburg.
“Each one represents a person who was killed by gun violence in Harrisburg,” Rev. Gerald Rhodes with the nonprofit Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence said.
Each shirt bares the name and age of a victim, as well as the date they were killed.
“When you see this or drive past, you’re shocked at just how many there have been,” Rhodes said. “These are individuals, not just numbers, and the t-shirts help bring that home.”
“Collectively we suffer from this,” Rev. Dr. Amy Welin from the Episcopal Cathedral at St. Stephen said. “Collectively, we can do something about this.”
“In order to put that flame out with regards to gun violence, it takes everybody,” Kingdom Embassy Pastor Eric Jackson said.
Both Reitzi and Rhodes say more attention to the issue is followed by change.
“We all need to pull together and let our legislators know that they got to get a grip on gun control,” Reitzi said.
Legislators are aware of the issue already. Their constituents are letting them hear it over and over again, all without t-shirts hanging up somewhere to try and make a point.
See, what these folks are doing isn’t making change. Not really.
What they’re doing is applying a salve to their soul, making it so they can rest easy in the belief that they’re good people fighting the good fight.
However, absolutely no one sees a bunch of t-shirts hanging on crosses and suddenly decides they’re not going to shoot people anymore. They’re not looking at a bunch of pastors saying something needs to be done and deciding to walk the straight and narrow.
This is nothing. They’re doing nothing except making themselves feel better.
And that bothers me because there are ways to combat violence that can actually work. Mentorship, job programs, youth intervention efforts, and a myriad of other options for those who want to make a difference. We know poverty and education are huge drivers of violent crime, so why not try to leverage that into making a difference?
Because all of that is hard. They’d rather make some empty gestures that they can use to try and guilt some lawmakers into passing some laws that accomplish little more than the gesture did.
That’s what’s on the table, and I’m beyond sick of it.
Violence is a legitimate issue, but these efforts aren’t legitimate solutions. They’re window-dressing.
Real solutions are dirty, messy, and don’t get you interviewed on the news for combatting violence in the community.