as published in the Blytheville Courier News on Saturday, October 1, 2016
Hall of Fame football coach Lou Holtz teaches, “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”
Our fair city has been hit with a long string of violent and scary armed robberies. Unfortunately, crime is not a new thing to Blytheville, but the last few months have been different. It is important to remember that every time a crime is committed, especially violent ones such as murder, drugs and the ones we’ve seen the last few weeks makes victims of us all.
That is 100 percent true. But…
“Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”
That begs the question of what our response has been.
I have heard the response of some that are truly for the first time, genuinely apprehensive about going out, especially after dark, to do their shopping. But we will NOT barricade ourselves in our homes. If we surrender our hometown to the criminal element, hiding our heads under a blanket and giving up the life that we know, then shame on us. We will NOT live under that real form of terrorism.
I have watched the response of our government leaders and find it lacking. Part of leadership is doing and part of leadership is communicating what you have done. I charge our leaders with failing in both areas, particularly the latter. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten” definitely applies here. What has been done during this crime spree that is any different? Nothing really that I know of. Also, I would hope that no one even thinks to use this crime spree as a campaign mechanism for raising taxes. Having said that, when we put more importance into public entertainment than into public safety, we shouldn’t be surprised when we reap the whirlwind.
I have heard and read the response of some race motivated individuals (both black and white) that have either blamed all crime on race or have “flipped the script” and deflected the real problem (armed robberies, drugs and murders) while spending all our energies accusing “the man” of injustices in areas such as conviction rates, sentencing, racially biased news coverage, or even worse, justifying crime due to a lack of good jobs. While humans are in positions of authority, mistakes and injustices will be found, but at this point in time there is no position in this entire county that you or I cannot campaign for. If these race motivated individuals believe there are injustices in those above mentioned areas, instead of condoning bad behavior and cursing the darkness, they should bring light to the situation by being the solution. Name-calling should have ended in elementary school.
I have read comments on social media that indicate that some know who the perpetrators are, if that is the case and they don’t reveal their identities to the police, then they are accomplices and are guilty as well.
So what do we do now? We, together, create a culture where crime, violence, racism, fear and unaccountability are no longer accepted. We don’t wait for others to fix our problems without each of us getting our proverbial hands dirty…we jump in ourselves and change the world around us.
We do this by teaching our children how to behave and by holding, ourselves and those around us accountable for our actions. We practice “law and order” and the “right way of doing things” in our every day lives. We reward those that are light-bearers (police, fire, EMS, etc.) and we slam those that are bringing darkness (criminals, gangsters, drug dealers, bad government leaders, etc.). This is proof positive that elections really do matter. This is what happens when we only vote pocket book issues and ignore cultural, law and order ones. Whoever said that you cannot legislate morality was just plain dumb. All laws are to some extent legislating morality.
I end this column by giving you an encouraging word – we are not too far gone. Blytheville is still a great place to live and it is still a great day to be in Blytheville. Now to borrow (and slightly alter) the words of former president Bill Clinton, “There is nothing wrong with Blytheville that can not be solved by what is best about Blytheville.”