During the transition from feudalism to a newer mode of social and economic relations, Europe decided to deal with their outcasts by placing them into jails or insane asylums. People who could no longer fit into any group were placed outside regular society. Prostitutes, beggars, homeless, and poor people in general who were becoming a threat to society, were deemed not fit to be in the new productive society.
Nowadays it seems that society is deciding some kind of new approach toward all those who do not fit the declining standards of the very busy new society.
The tensions that society faces today are a complex mix of problems related to finances, family relationships, health, and even the search for a meaningful life in more affluent countries and the need for survival in the undeveloped ones. But even in the midst of affluent societies the struggle for survival and meaning is becoming more and more difficult; therefore the underlying social tensions continue to increase.
The media, movies, videos and even music feed the young people with images of fast success and easy money where violence and violent behavior are glamorized and are shown as a symbol of power and recognition.
The problems that appear in our cities and towns are also a product of who we are and what as a society we have become. Materialism and busyness have taken over our lives and there is no time to think of others, not even our most close ones.
In the case of gang-related activity, we may choose to work as a community in creating ways that emphasize prevention and intervention that entails being involved in one of the many resources that exist such as outreach programs, youth clubs, church programs, etc, or create new ones in collaboration with parents, schools and youngsters. This also implies investing money and resources in education, training and job possibilities.
On the other hand we can choose to build more jails and correctional facilities to put away those who do not fit. If this way is chosen we may end up with more jails than schools.
We need to realize that each and every child has value, that they can succeed if we can extend our love and care to embrace those who are different.
Love does not imply been permissive, but it does include been able to listen, to think through things and to be able to acknowledge that part of the change that we expect of others may start by ourselves.
It would be a tremendous tragedy if once more in history we decide to eliminate what we do not understand or like, instead of trying to recognize our part in what is happening.
This lesson of acknowledgement and change is necessary today not only in solving our local problems, but also as we look at the violence and death that our way of life is creating abroad.
Rebellion and hate do not grow in a void; they are the product of ignorance, injustice and indifference.