Back in 1914 when Carl Sandberg, one of America's great poets, published his nine poems on Chicago it was obvious how much he loved this great City. Most people are familiar with just a few lines from his famous poem, "Chicago Hog Butcher of the World" and of course his most famous passage "Chicago, the City of big shoulders." However, that poem contained much more than those flattering words about a City he loved. It also included less flattering verses, "They tell me you are crooked and I answer yes: it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again. And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: on the faces of Woman and Children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger and having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my City and give them back the sneer and say to them: Come and show me another City with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning." There is much more of course, but it's obvious most of what we hear or want to hear are the words of a good Chicago.
Today in Chicago most of the news from the City was a smiling Mayor announcing that Amazon, really, really, liked two locations in the City for their future home. No question a reason for a Mayor to get excited and garner photo ops and massive news coverage. After all it would be a much needed economic boost to the City. Just a few days previous it was more of the same with the announcement that the City was partnering with Elon Musk the business magnet, investor, and engineer to bring a 12 minute express service from Chicago's Loop to O'Hare via an underground tunnel. Yet again more photos, more massive news coverage for the Mayor an old Elon himself.
I'm not an engineer by no means but I'm thinking isn't Musk a smell of some sort? Oh well, regardless it did seem to distract from something else that was happening in Chicago. Lets recall Sandberg's passage, "they tell me you are crooked and I answer yes: It is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free again." Carl Sandberg saw the truth. He saw not only the greatness but the seedy underbelly of a City he loved.
This weekend Chicago has endured 58 people shot and 12 murdered. It has produced no photo ops by the Mayor or any City leaders for that matter. Human lives being taken in epidemic like numbers. Last week on the South side we had a massive anti-violence march, streets closed, lots of shouting, celebrities elbowing each other before the cameras, speeches, a call to arms so to speak. Soon it was over, and the killings and shootings resumed at a horrid clip. It's not 12 minutes to O'Hare or the Coming of Amazon for God sakes. It's human lives. Most of the victims, our most cherished commodities, the Children of Chicago.
Our leaders do not have to stop trying to move Chicago forward. However, it would be nice to see an urgent movement to bring this horrid situation of violence to an end. There is an old Marine saying and I would like to call attention to it. To all of Chicago's so called leaders, "lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way." To those who see these distractions, press conferences and photo ops, you might want to send a message to those who represent you. Never ever, breath your own exhaust. Delusion is contagious. This is not a broken record by some old guy. We all should shout at them, "When is enough going to be enough?"
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