By: Jaime W. Mejía (Translated by Jessica Schwartzman)
Last Thursday during Pa’Arriba Foundation’s Neighborly Conversations Dialogue Circle, we began to talk about a large problem present across the Americas: widespread violence.
Countries like Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Venezuela, experience violence on par with Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq. It seems outrageous that because of this, the world may start to categorize Latinos, generally kind people, as criminals and terrorists.
Continuing with this story, long ago, it was surprising to find oneself in dangerous circumstances because we all took care of ourselves; The employment situation, the economy and our needs were different.
Currently, cell phone robberies have become common, as have carjackings, armed muggings, and assaults in stores and pharmacies involving vulnerable pedestrians. In fact, these events have become far too common.
But, what similar patterns can we find in all of these situations?
In theory, it would be easier and more productive for the people committing the crimes – who often come from dysfunctional families and economically poor backgrounds – to read, study, prepare themselves, or work, but in reality this isn’t an option for them. Instead, many of them resort to drugs or drinking to forget their problems.
Consequently, those same individuals become violent in order to satisfy their addictions. It’s rare that a robber steals in order to feed their kids or support their spouse.
Using force, aggression or robbery to get what they need is a “modus operandi” but it is also a desperate scream asking society to return its gaze to this corner.
Vulnerable people become violent due to the lack of opportunities. What opportunities can a kid have when, when their father gets drunk, he hits their mother?
What kind of example can a person that robs or kills set for their home?
What type of person can a child become if they are completely abandoned and grow up with the laws of the street? Or worse, when parents teach their kids this type of behavior?
Fear makes us easy prey for armed criminals, it’s always preferable to lose something material than one’s life
Let’s not look aside
It’s good to appreciate life and give thanks for being in a safe environment, but it’s also important to place ourselves in the shoes of people committing the crimes, many of whom lack culture, encouragement and affection.
They likely have significant material and spiritual scarcity, and perhaps extenuating circumstances, too.
Does a society exist that gives education opportunities, work, and motivation, that helps a person know they are accepted as a fundamental part of a community and makes them feel useful?
Let’s put ourselves, just for a minute, into the shoes of the thieves.
Not to justify their actions, but to understand that people born into difficult circumstances face problems we often can’t see or comprehend. And to realize that we, both personally and as a society, have the power to make a change.
#NoMoreViolenceInLatinAmerica #WeWantPeace #NeighborlyConversations #QuitoWithoutViolence #WeWantOurselvesOutOfHarmsWay