A fight breaks out. Some numskull with a gun starts shooting wildly, not giving a damn about the fact that he's hitting people who just happen to be nearby at the time. In this case, the fool shot and killed two teenagers and wounded five others inside a crowded Englewood (Chicago) restaurant because he was mad at someone, who, incidentally, was not among the persons he killed or wounded.
Can you imagine what happens to the mind of a child who grows up in a neighborhood where acts like this and other acts of mad violence happen all the time?
A substantial number of children who are surrounded by this kind of brutality become crazy and violent to survive; they may suffer from PTSD, or take drugs to alter their mental experience, or they just barely hold together, living in fear every day.
How can a child growing up in these circumstances maintain a steady focus on school and homework, all the way through to high school graduation? The developing mind of such a child is forced to contend regularly with matters far more urgent than Math and Social Studies. Their vulnerable, developing nervous systems are constantly running on high alert.
I have nothing but praise for the dedicated teachers who stick with these kids, year after year. I don't think I'd have the stamina for it. If some of them become burned out—shell-shocked really— it's quite understandable. They're heroes who deserve our sympathy, not the scorn that has become all too commonplace among people who have no idea what these teachers face every day when they go to work.
Last week, I referred to one popular Chicago cop blogger who suggested that nothing short of carpet bombing would cure the ailment that afflicts Chicago's Englewood neighborhood, which, even though it was intended as a joke, reflects an offensive lack of empathy for the victims—a very unfair, everyone-is-guilty attitude.
No they're not.
I also described his comment as "inevitable cop dumbassery," but perhaps the cops are traumatized, too. They aren't immune to the horror, and they can become pretty much nuts like others who live with this brutal madness every day. So maybe I should be a little more sympathetic. Aren't they also among the wounded bystanders?