Lining Our Basket

Tonight I was watching Nash Bridges. I like the show, which is saying something for this non-TV music lover. There is very little I like, less that I watch. And most of the time when I do watch it is only with half my attention. There are just other things that I would prefer to do that actually require some brain activity and less mesmerization. And this particular show didn't start much different, but it certainly ended very differently: it had my attention and it had me thinking. TV has the power to do this, even though it chooses to exercise that power very seldom.

Tonight a kid was given a second chance. Accused of a crime he did not do, finally released exonerated, he had a chance to clean up his gang banging, dope dealing life. Someone who believed in justice, someone who believed that the idea is to get the guilty man rather than get any man you can, managed to get him set free. Not because he was giving the kid a favor, but because he believed that the only men worthy of the jail cell are those who did the crime in question. So an angry young man, guilty of other crimes but not of this one, was set free. He held that moment in his hands.

Then he threw it away. He went and sought his own revenge on the man who set him up. As I watched the powerful ending, of a young man who had the chance to be free being put in a police car for a crime he did commit and that took his freedom away, I was touched with the power of it. This is our country. This is the story of so many of our youth. How many young men are like this one fictional character? As we watch the rising gang problem can there be any doubt that this young man represents someone some where?

What are we doing to ourselves? How could we let it get so bad that a gang family is better than no family and freedom means nothing in the face of revenge? How can we tolerate the idea that taking a life is as easy as breathing? What is it in our perverse human natures that can look at the violence and decide that the solution is to lock them all up? Just what are we doing?

We are lining our own basket.

The US is going to hell in a hand basket and we're helping it along. Every time that we see another crime and feel nothing, every time that we see a young man going to prison for some heinous act and think it has no impact upon us, every time we hear or see a plea for help and turn a blind eye, we push ourselves further along. We are affected and it is our responsibility. But the tide of violence washing us in blood and living victims will never turn as long as we refuse to take ownership of the problem. Solutions to the problems won't come easy, but nothing worth comes easy. Nothing that helps another and requires a commitment of time and resources will ever come easy.

I love my country. I love being an American and the freedoms it brings. And, no, I don't know the ultimate answer to the problems in a country where a young man would rather go to prison knowing he got his revenge than to take freedom and hang onto it with every ounce of strength in him he has. But there is one thing I do know: only we can solve it. It is our responsibility. And we either have to take care of that responsibility, or prepare for the day when hell really is here on earth.