Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I don't know what to tell them

“Blind men do not fear the darkness. Because they live in it.”

Everyday. Over and over and over again. I get the same emails. But they are from different kids. Everyday. I get them from kids in Los Angeles. From kids in the inner cities. From kids on Indian reservations in South Dakota. From kids in Scotland, the United Kingdom, and everywhere in between.

I hear from Surenos, Bloods, Crips, Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, and gangs no one has ever heard of. Local gangs, national gangs, and international gangs.

All of them want the same things. Family, love, kinship…hope.

They want to be respected and rescued. They don’t want fear, jail, and death. But they live that daily. They all want one thing. The kids that write me that is.

To get out.

They don’t know how. They are afraid to try. They are afraid that they will get hurt, their families punished, or getting themselves killed. Because they want to live a life without Gangsterism.

I don’t know what to tell them.

I can only offer to be there for them. Whatever that is worth.

I hear it from educators. From community workers. Social workers, law enforcement, and even Homeland Security. How do we stop it? How do we get kids out of gangs?

And I don’t know what to tell them.

I know what causes it. But I can’t fix that. I know what makes it grow and spread like a plague all over the planet. But I cannot give them the cure. I know what is killing these kids. But I cannot rescue them.

I am asked, “I am interested in what is the intervention to stop it?” I can only say,

“Interest is the intervention.”

Sometimes it is someone to listen. Sometimes it is someone to protect. All the time it is someone to love. They are called stupid for being in gangs. But they are kids. Kids will do what they are allowed to do. If they are not led. They will follow anything. If they have no guidance, they will be guided by those who would guide them to destruction.

They don’t know any better because they are kids.

They are afraid to die. But even more, they are afraid to live. They live in places most of us would be afraid to drive through. They live in the shadows but they do not fear it, because they are all too familiar with the darkness.

Kids ask me why don’t my parents care? Why doesn’t someone come up with some way to get us out? Why don’t churches spend more money on me than on people a world away, than on carpeting and new pews? What am I going to do to get free of this life of pain and imprisonment? They ask me to save them. And I am a stranger. I ask others why aren’t their parents there to answer them.

And no one knows what to tell me.