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Sunday, April 23, 2006

At the Bus Stop, part deux

So on Friday I was all nostalgic about the lovely interactions we have with our neighbors here in the big city. Well, I have to revise that sentiment. I still love those bus stop, corner store, and all the other beautiful everyday interactions. But that's just one part of the story.

On Friday, one of our roommates was robbed at gunpoint in the alley by our house. I have no deep reflections or spiritual insights about this. Yes, we should pray for our enemies, so that could be one great spiritual truth that applies here. But the reality is that I was just disappointed.

I love so many things here and yet I hate a million others. I hate this kind of random, stupid violence. I hate the things in the robbers life that led him to this point. I hate the way that kids are treated by friends and relatives. I hate the trash. I hate the drug and alcohol abuse. I hate the prostitution and the people who keep it in business. These are daily interactions too, and they are not as pleasant.

I don't like to write about these things. It goes against my marketing philosophy. Why should I tell people these bad things when the TV news does a fine job already? I try to talk about good things. I want people to live here, invest here, and come here for a day in the park. I want this place to be whole and somehow I believe that if we talk like it is then maybe someday it will be.

I struggle a lot with kingdom of god theology. We live in the "now, but not yet." Sometimes it seems like the now, but not even close. So where is Jesus in this violence? This is a burning question that I don't really have an answer to. There is a book called "The Creative Suffering of God" that I read a long time ago. I can't remember much of what it said, but that title has stuck with me. What I do know is that Jesus came here to suffer with us. He suffered in his own time and he suffers with us now.

I don't know why these things happen or what good can or will come of it. I don't know why God refuses to end it all instantly even though he could. I know many people have drawn close to God through suffering. There is a philosophical notion of horrendous evil that some say does not exist simply because no evil can be horrendous if it provides an encounter with a loving God. One could say that this is the lesson of Job.

I believe that Jesus is with us when we suffer. These interactions, while painful, must somehow be beautiful too.

4 comments:

nbcthreat said...

I'm not saying this is a solution for everyone, Ryan, but if I lived in your neighborhood and used public transportation,
I'd be carrying a weapon.



Of course, I'm also trained and experienced with using firearms. Anyone who's going to be carrying a weapon should have the appropriate level of training, and I can't in good conscience recommend a pistol to someone who hasn't used one professionally. I mean, even a cop who was carrying would probably just hand the guy his wallet in this scenario. That's the action least likely to get you shot and that's obviously your first priority.

If someone hasn't used a weapon professionally and they want to buy a pistol, they have a responsiblity to get trained and certified (the NRA runs some good programs for this) and spend some significant time at the range. It makes sense to spend at least as much time learning how to use a pistol as you took learning how to use a car. Any idiot can pull a trigger, but that's a long way from being able to make a round hit the desired target with a short-range weapon while experiencing an extraordinarily high level of stress.

My old business partner, who was a cop in Riverside, CA for 7 years, carried both a pistol and a big canister of pepper spary when on duty. He used the second one pretty regularly with great results. He told me that he would rather be carrying pepper spray than a handgun when out and about. Why? "You'll actually use it." Plus, this solution is a lot cheaper, a lot smaller, and a lot less likely to land YOU in jail for trying to defend yourself. Nonetheless, when someone sticks a gun in your face and asks for your wallet, you probably shouldn't be reaching for anything but your wallet.

Obviously, in your neighborhood, mugging isn't the only thing you have to worry about, though, and there will be times when you need to defend yourself (rape, random assault, etc) and a weapon makes sense in this scenario.

A big container of 10% OC is great for a pocket or purse (although this is a bad place to carry a weapon) doesn't require a permit and is relatively inexpensive. It's probably a good idea to get some practice canisters to pracice with.

For in the home, a shotgun makes a lot of sense. They're inexpensive, don't require a permit in Philly, give you a significant advantage over someone breaking and entering, are less likely to penetrate the walls and harm a neighbor, and have the advantage of significant psychological intimidation with the sound generated by loading a round in the chamber, possibly avoiding the need to actually discharge the weapon. And, if you see violence going on immediately outside your house, you might be able to intervene rather than watching helplessly and waiting for the cops to arrive.

I can't help but think that if every other house in your neighborhood had a shotgun and neighbors made a habit of stepping outside, armed and ready when they heard yelling and screaming that it would have a positive impact on crime and violence in your neighborhood. A shotgun is an inherently defensive weapon. You can't really hide it, which is why you don't have to have a permit to own one.

If you get a firearm, you should absolutely require everyone who will have access to the weapon to take a safety course.

Ryan Kellermeyer said...

Dude, you scare me. I do pretty much always walk around with a can of pepper spray though. Especially late at night.

I am very aware of the risks I am taking when I'm walking around here after dark. I am not sure how do deal with those. I am fairly convinced that the answer is not to run and hide, but I don't think going commando is quite the right answer either.

The shotgun idea appeals to me somewhat. I would probably load it with corn pellets or bird shot (a la Dick Cheney) or something. I wouldn't want to kill anyone but it would be nice to be able to scare the crap out of someone.

I'm pretty sure that the handgun is a bad idea. I'll move before I go that route.

wilsonian said...

Is your roommate alright?

Ryan Kellermeyer said...

Our roommate is alright. Just lost wallet, keys, and phone. I wanted to keep their identity private since I didn't ask them.