Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Governments have limits, and We are those limits

  • Folks sleeping on park benches
  • Someone behaving erratically and in harm’s way
  • Someone selling drugs to youth who are overdosing
  • Someone in your home is perpetrating violence on others in your home
  • Someone is talking to themselves on the bus
  • Someone is experiencing a mental health crisis and is afraid
  • Someone is seen snooping in car windows on your block
  • Your friends are intoxicated and starting a fight
  • Your brake lights aren’t working
  • You’re sick and unable to mow your lawn
  • You hit a rough patch and can’t repair your roof

Imagine accessing your neighbors as a resource of knowledge, referrals and immediate help, instead of waiting on a church “mission” team or the government to help.

Imagine having access to training, so you can know how to respond to these situations yourself as part of a neighborhood team of good citizens, instead of calling in the distant, cold government.

Imagine if everybody were included in a small neighborhood community that knows them, meets them regularly, and cares for them; and isolated people can get plugged into a supportive small community that really cares about them for the long term.

Imagine if there were a database where small communities share their information and coordinate care so no one community gets overwhelmed.

Imagine all the people.

We expect police to be capable of responding to ALL of these types of situations, and have to trust that they're doing it right all the time. That's not happening because it can’t happen. Yet, the current model of a police force as a social Swiss Army Knife persists.

Trusting that "a small task force of good citizens" will always be capable of responding to problems in the right way on short notice is not a reasonable expectation. The community pooled its resources to make those people available on call is the entire purpose of government in the first place. But we have shirked our responsibility and put it all on the police. We’ve blamed them for not doing our job. And the laws are written to keep us from doing our part.

I propose that people in the neighborhood start talking to each other and taking care of neighbors and “loose cannons” in their niche of the world; and stop waiting on government to fix our problems.