Not everyone is working on the problem

I’ve been suffering under a great delusion: I thought most folks were working on the big problems but overwhelmed by the scale, complexity, and need. My rose-colored glasses were shattered during a community walk with DA Seth Williams and CM Mark Scuilla last night.

A few things grabbed my attention during the course of the evening:

That Tan: maybe it is Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It isn’t the part of Philadelphia I’ve visited but it must the part where CM Scuilla hangs out.

If You Gotta Say It: DA Williams assured the community residents that “we” (I was not sure if this was the DA’s office of the Philadelphia Police Department) shouldn’t be viewed as an occupying force in the neighborhood. The leader doth protest too much, methinks.

Bad People: CM Scuilla assured the predominately white community residents that there are Good People and Bad People in the neighborhood. But if the Good People will work together, we can chase the bad people out of the neighborhood and — he stumbled when he got here — make them go somewhere else.

Solutions: Based on what I heard during the walk, we can solve the problem of people with no jobs, no homes, and no support systems by more foot patrols, more folks in prison, and more fierce prosecution. I wonder if we had stronger education, fewer corrupt government officials if some of the young folks in our poorer neighborhoods would be able to turn their hand to legal entrepreneurial endeavors rather than wasting themselves selling and using drugs. Nah, I’m sure locking up more parents for years without trials and paying more cops to not be an invading force is the real solution to budget woes.

Community: I was hurt to hear government officials piling fuel on the fire of fear and separation that already exists in the neighborhood. The predominately middle class and white civic organization talked about “those people” and the city officials called them “bad people.” I wonder how many knew that several of “those people” in the park are also residents who keep houses but find connection and friendship over needles in the park.

Bad People: I haven’t met many bad people yet. I’ve met many people in a bad situation who are making hard decisions. Wait, I did meet some officials making six figures while their city rots. I wonder…

Maybe if we would get to know people, we could serve them. Not as props for our photo ops but as neighbors and fellow human beings. I’d love for DA Williams and CM Scuilla to come and sit in the park with me, share some coffee with the neighbors, and listen instead of talking. No cameras, no suits, no shock-and-awe troops. We might discover that there really aren’t as many Bad People as we thought.

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