as published in the Blytheville Courier News on Wednesday, August 12, 2015
By TOM HENRY
Greek philosopher Aristotle taught that “Nature abhors a vacuum”. That is not only true in the physical world, but it is particularly true when it comes to power, trade and communities.
Imagine, for example, what happens at your place of employment when the manager gets fired. Immediately people begin to position and politic for the job. Some even begin to sabotage those they believe stand in their way of getting to become “boss”. Territory, turf and power begins to be jockeyed for until someone has enough “clout” or “street cred” to be the frontrunner. None of this power will ever be voluntarily given back. Many times, when the new “boss” has emerged, all other rivals are eliminated to neutralize their threat.
This is what happens in corporate America, in the Mafia, in organized crime and in the ‘hood. So too will it happen after Blynd Justus. Despite any short term peaceful lull that we may experience, we’ll eventually begin to see bloody power struggles until the vacuum is filled or change is demanded.
Beginning well before sunrise Tuesday morning, the City of Blytheville and parts of Mississippi County felt 574 law enforcement officers, most from other jurisdictions and states, create more than fifty different vacuums in our community. Perhaps some were on your block. While not all arrests created big vacuums, some certainly did. The question now remains, who or what is going to fill those vacuums?
Are we simply going to allow new drug dealers to take their place or will we bring a massive reduction to the illegal drug trade in Mississippi County? Are we going to cry out and demand an end to our accepting the drug, thug and blood culture as the unchangeable, normal, acceptable way of life here? Are we going to continue to turn a blind eye to crime, violence and social deviancy and continue to share the blood guilt of that lifestyle or are we going to transform this community into a safe, prosperous, healthy place for all families to live?
“There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem,” said the controversial Arkansas born former Black Panther Leroy Eldridge Cleaver. I am not wishing to draw attention to the man, but we certainly need to look at his quote. No one from Mississippi County can any longer claim neutrality in these matters, we must all decide today if we are individually going to be part of the solution or part of the problem. There can be no more “staying out of it”.
While I applaud and am truly grateful to all those brave men and women from out of town that came to “help us clean up our backyards” and that have pledged to continue working with us “until every weed has been pulled up”, it is ultimately OUR job to finish the rehabilitation and to maintain a clean backyard.
What people value always increases in their lives and what people reject flees from them. We will have what it is that we expect and demand to see. It is time we value life, law and order and reject violence, drugs and fear. How many times have each of us heard comments like “Well, only in Blytheville” or “You know how Blytheville is”. What we must do is change that dynamic, change the paradigm and fill that vacuum.
Hope is not just a political buzzword so deliberately vague as to be used to confuse the masses and win elections. Hope is the belief that good things are going to happen. The fifty plus persons arrested Tuesday were truly the “worst of the worst”. They were alleged drug or gun dealers, nearly all previously convicted for violent crimes such as rape, murder, kidnapping, battery, aggravated assault, etcetera. With that much evil plucked out of our backyard, how can we not have hope that things will improve? Fear is on the decline and hope is rising.
The vacuum that has been created WILL be filled by something, but the question is what. Let’s purposefully fill that vacuum with hope in our future, faith, charity, personal and community improvement, investment in our futures, kindness and a renewed community standard of behavior. These changes do not apply only to the house down the block, it means for MY house and for YOUR house. If we don’t, then we’ll just be trading one gang for another gang and one evil “boss” for another evil “boss”.