I rarely watch the news, not because I want to be uninformed or that I am unconcerned, but simply because I just can not take all of the reports of the violence in Chicago. It’s not that I don’t care or want to be unaware, but what exactly are we supposed to do with all of this depressing and sad information? If you aren’t desensitized to what is happening, then you are overwhelmed. I am the latter.
I would not have even seen this video had my daughter, who is now stationed in Georgia in the Army, posted it on her Facebook page. As she considers life post-military, I try to beg her to come home, but she refuses, and how I can blame her.
“It’s just too bad there Mama.”
I know how she feels.
Recently I attended the National Seminar on Evangelism in Colorado through my church, The Salvation Army, an international movement and evangelical part of the universal Christian church. I used to proudly boast about being from Chicago when I travelled because people would go into their SNL voices and cheer, “Da Bears,” or “Da Bulls,” and we’d get a good laugh, and then compare skylines. Whether my newfound friends I’d met agreed or not, I knew our city’s downtown landscape was more beautiful than theirs. Everyone knew Chicago for its beautiful architecture, buildings, and championship teams.
Telling people you’re from Chicago elicits a different response now though.
“Ohhh, really?,” as if to say, “You seem like such a nice person to be from such a bad place.” Then when they go on to say, “Well, I’ll be praying for you,” there’s no space to get offended.
Everyone in or near Chicago needs prayer.
This weekend we celebrate Labor Day which used to be a time when you could count on having one last fun, summer holiday where you could create your own rib tasting fest by visiting different family and friends throughout the city. As a kid, I loved the impromptu jump rope competitions that would happen as we played freely outside, jumping until the street lights came on and then you had to get permission to be outside, otherwise you knew you’d be in some kind of trouble if those lights came on and you weren’t in the house as you should. Ask any “Old School” Chicagoan and they’ll tell you about the world of trouble you’d be in “if the street lights caught you outside.” There were lots of other games we used to love to play. “Mother May I?,” was a classic, along with the doorbell game where you’d ring someone’s bell and run as fast as you could to hide.
Those were the good old days.
I bet kids today don’t even know what playing those games are like. “Hide and Seek” is a thing of the past. If you’re in Chicago, the safest bet is to just hide, for real.
I won’t be at any South side barbecues this year, or next year either if this is how our months are going to continue. I’ll be tucked away at our family home in Michigan, away from the violent, turbulent streets of Chicago with my husband, my mom, and daughters. There’s no way I could even think of barbecuing on the lakefront or in a Chicago park like we used to. Those days for me are over, especially when you see videos like this.
I won’t stop praying or fulfilling my mission from the lessons I learned at my seminar on evangelism though, and for anyone reading this, on behalf of Chicago, we definitely accept your prayers for our safety and peace. We need them.
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