Sunday, February 05, 2006

Being Unreasonable

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
-George Bernard Shaw

We are encouraged too often to avoid rocking the boat. Stirring the ****. Raise a stink. Or thinking outside the box. We are told not to get upset about things outside of our “circle of control”.

But when we allow a cancer to breech that barrier, that circle of control, suddenly we want something done about it. Like those who didn’t protest the arrest of Jews in Nazi Germany eventually we may find ourselves with no one left to defend us when the predators come.

What does it take to make a difference? Whether we are talking about the lives of kids trapped in gangs, lonely people trapped in red tape and bureaucracy trying to get help , or those in need of life saving services too often we allow things like paperwork to get in the way.

Bureaucracy got in the way of open communication pre-9/11. Bureaucracy continues to get in the way of people in the Gulf Coast who need housing and help. And it gets in the way of addressing the safety and security of kids in the system. Plain and simple… bureaucracy kills people.

I have lost count of the number of kids I’ve worked with that have no mention of gang activity in their personal charts. Yet with limited interaction with them, gang involvement is obvious. Why is that? Is it that previous counselors, case managers, and social workers of all types didn’t recognize it? Or did they dismiss it as what they believed to be “wanna be” gang membership. (Even though they have no qualifications to determine what makes a gang member.). Or worst of all, could they have been afraid that they could not adequately “treat” such behavior so better not to mention it to make it look like a more successful treatment?

None of these things are excusable. None. Training is always available. It does not matter if a kid has a “membership card” that says: Crip. “Wanna be” gang membership is often far more dangerous than real membership. And to ignore the issue because they don’t know how to address it is deplorable.

People don’t want to rock the boat or make changes. They don’t want to stand up and be unreasonable, too often because they are comfortable. They just want to get the kid or (insert social problem here) out of their hair and pass it along.

Comfortable in their little lives as long as crime doesn’t directly affect them or their family. But ignoring the problems, socially promoting kids in school or in counseling is the equivalent of passing on the problem to someone else.

If you are a teacher and a 17 year old kid cannot read past a third grade level…he shouldn’t be a senior in high school. What do you think he is going to graduate to be? What will he be qualified for other than a gunman for the Vice Lords, Gangster Disciples, or Crips?

What is even more appalling is some of the aforementioned gangs stress the importance of getting an education!!! They stress political involvement and community resourcefulness. One of the 6 laws of the Gangster Disciples stresses the importance of education. In that group, if you do not know the “rules” you do not get to “graduate” to the next level of rank. The Latin Kings consider themselves a political movement. The Gangster Disciples have a political group known as 21st Century Vote, (and they have almost won seats in local Chicago government). Though it is twisted…most of these Nation gangs stress…discipline. Something that we too often as parents and society are neglecting to impart on our children. It is no wonder most gang members call their gang, “family.”

Sadly our school systems, social service systems, and the legal system do not take the same stringent approach to ensuring that kids get better opportunities.

We are not unreasonable enough. At least not until a gang takes over a city in the aftermath of a disaster. Then we want something done about it. Then it is too late.

Our schools tout “no child left behind”. But “left behind” for whom? The truth is no child is being left behind because gangs and other deviant groups are picking up where we choose to fail.

They aren’t left behind at all actually, they are passed on to the gangs, prisons, and cemeteries because we choose to be “reasonable” and not rock the boat when we see injustice.

It is not just criminals who commit injustice; too often it is our own bureaucracy and comfort in complacency.