Thursday, September 4, 2008

Violence Vigil: More Empty Gestures

Lots of violence in Chicago, as usual, but more this year than in recent years. So, tonight the Organization of the North East (ONE) will end all of the violence once and for all. How? Why, with another magical vigil "in response" to last Friday's shooting in Uptown. It is scheduled to happen tonight at 6:00 p.m. at the site of the shooting in the 4800 block of North Sheridan Road. If it's raining, go to People's Church at 941 W. Lawrence (watch your step; crack whores and drunks commonly defecate on the sidewalk in front of the entrances). ONE is announcing the Magik Vigil via email. As of 2:15 p.m., however, they do not have it on their web site. ONE describes its mission: " build and sustain a successful mixed economic, multi-ethnic community on the north lakefront of Chicago." Another useless vigil, merely balm on a great gaping gashes, piles of clotted blood, guts on the floor. The balm will do nothing. It won't even quell the pain. When will the True Believers stop abusing the word "vigil?" To be vigilant means to be: 1. keenly watchful to detect danger; wary: a vigilant sentry. 2. ever awake and alert; sleeplessly watchful. Will these people be "keenly watchful" tonight? Was ONE or Cease Fire - or anybody else, including the police - "keenly watchful to detect danger" last Friday? Were the parents, relatives or friends of the victims and the shooters "ever awake and alert" to the danger signs? Tonight's ONE event will not be a vigil. It will be time to gather, to mourn, to discuss. That's fine, there is value to that. But to call it a "vigil" is not only incorrect, it is misleading. It fools the participants and the noncritical observer into believing that something is being done, that a solution is being implemented. By the way, where is Cease Fire in all of this? Wow, thank goodness their state funding was reinstated, huh? Cease Fire describes itself as "an evidence-based public health approach to reducing shootings and killings. Our methods for reversing the violence epidemic use highly trained street violence interrupters and outreach staff, public education campaigns and community mobilization." Note to Cease Fire: Your methods ain't working, friends. Vigils and "Don't Shoot" signs and gun buy-back media events aren't the solution to an epidemic of endemic problems. Vast social changes are needed. Uplifting of morals and renewed respect for life must take place. After decades of "Free Tibet" bumper stickers, China still occupies it. After decades more of "Don't Shoot" signs, the gangsters and thugs will still be shooting. Petunias for peace, anyone? How about another useless walk to "take back" your neighborhood? Maybe we can all gather on a corner and mumble magik chants. Perhaps we could levitate the Bridgeview Bank Building in the hope of changing the world. Burn some newt eyes, mix them up with spiders and clove, stir that into a magik elixir and voila! You've got Hope. Problems solved. Hope, as they say, is not a strategy. Chants and candle light vigils are not tactics of any value. If only there had been a few more petunias on the 4800 block of N. Sheridan last Friday.