Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities opens with, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” He wrote it in the mid 1800’s, yet it seems so true today.
In a time when there are “helicopter parents” who hover over every move their children make, and “snowplow parents” who remove every obstacle from their children’s path, we also have children in our midst who are not protected, not warned, not given rules, not advised, and not taught the value of life—their lives or the lives of others.
Far too many kids believe they’ll be dead by the age of 21, and, unfortunately, far too many of them are right. While total homicide figures are down from 2022, The rate of teen murder has almost doubled. Just days ago, a 13-year-old boy was murdered—one of 22 other young people who lost their lives in Indianapolis this year.
How do we balance the joy of life with the sorrow of death that so many families are dealing with this Thanksgiving? The African-American Coalition of Indianapolis is tracking youth homicides in Indianapolis, and is asking all youth-oriented service organizations, churches, business owners, and philanthropic organizations to help provide resources, volunteers, tutors and mentors for at-risk young people. Stop The Violence Indianapolis teaches deescalation of arguments, expanding on their motto, “Conflict is inevitable, but violence is preventable.”
But when a murder is committed, there are always two victims. The person who is gone and leaves a grieving family behind, and the person who will (eventually) be incarcerated and leaves a grieving family behind. For us, at 2nd Chance Indiana, we know that for every murder we are looking at another juvenile who will spend years in prison for his crime. Years that should have been spent developing talents, working, and moving up in life, marrying and having a family. Watching junior play ball, and eating turkey on Thanksgiving with his relatives. Instead they will live in prison with shame. We have not worked with anyone who isn’t weighed down by shame.
Those young juveniles are victims of a society that has promoted the dissolution of families, reduced God to be no more than a pre-cursor to a swear word, allowed our schools to teach things their parents would never allow, and reduced the power of police and the rule of law, as we watch stores being looted, and neighborhoods with empty storefronts.
We have artificial intelligence, 5G communications, dozens of ways to stream TV content, and driverless cars. We are making breakthroughs in genetic engineering, bionic body parts, and sending a man to Mars. But we still are killing each other.
The best of times and the worst,