Thursday, April 17, 2008

Gang Violence vs. Single Moms

I recently saw a documentary on CNN news about gangs in southern California. This documentary highlighted the hard luck stories and the cycle of violence in this gang infested neighborhood in Los Angeles. It told of various gangsters who were brutally murdered, interviewed others who were currently gang members, a priest who buried 150 slain gangsters from the neighborhood, and offered others a way out through a work program .

There were also numerous interviews with their sobbing mothers. They all blamed poverty, peer pressure, and a history of gangs in their neighborhood and families for the fate of these young men. The documentary was 1 hour long and about twenty percent of it was listening to mothers, sisters and girlfriends sob as they told their stories. Amazingly, every mother portrayed in the story was a “single mom”. Also amazingly no, one ever discussed the possibility that just maybe the reason why so many of these men went down the wrong path was that they had no father in their household to discipline them, set an example for them, direct them or advise them.

Every one in the story was portrayed as a victim, even the priest who had been taken advantage of by some of the men he was helping. No solution was given except, the priest who insisted that he would not give up on these young men and keep giving them another chance to do good. From what I saw in this documentary, these men were already “ruined”. Even with the “kit glove” treatment these violent gangsters were given in the interviews, I could tell that they had no conscience. They rationalized hurting and killing others and selling drugs. Many had already been shot and were proud of it. One talked about enjoying feeling the pain when he was beaten. One said that he hated cops because they could carry guns and get away with it. These gangsters had gang symbols and and other bad things tattooed on their bald heads, foreheads necks, forearms, and hands. The only thing that they seemed to take pride in was how evil they could be and how much pain they could cause and receive.The young men interviewed were clearly psychopaths or very good actors. No doubt that these young men probably harbor a great deal of anger and resentment which is probably justified, but it is precisely that anger and resentment that has caused their psychopathic attitudes and behavior.

I myself do not know the path to unlearn this anger and resentment, but there in lies the key. I believe that the answer is individual and spiritual. Some have found it, I have not.They have an attitude of “you can't do anything to me, I'm prepared to be locked up or killed like most of my friends were. Try to hurt me, I welcome the pain and I will only enjoy my revenge even more”.

There is only one example I can think of in my own life that even comes close to this experience. I had an experience as young boy, away from home for the first time, in a sleep-away camp. I remember being on a hike with my counselor and my bunk mates. I began to misbehave in some way on this hike. I don't know exactly what I was doing but I remember the counselor repeatedly scolding me and telling me to stop. I clearly remember thinking that he wasn't my mother, he couldn't beat me up, therefore he had no power over me and I was free to continue to do what ever I wanted. So,I continued with my bad behavior with a feeling of impunity. Next, my counselor told me that if I didn't behave that I would not be permitted to see the movie on Saturday, I would have to remain in the bunk alone instead. I continued to misbehave and he made good on his threat. He already made up his mind and my crying didn't soften his resolve. I stayed alone in the bunk the next day while the other kids watched the movie. I realized that the counselor did have power over me and for the rest of the summer I knew when to back down. Is it possible that this simple incident had changed my life?? I don't know but I still remember it clearly 40 years later.

That day I learned how to take direction from an authority. I believe that is why it is so important for a child to have a strong father for direction,discipline, guidance and example. A mother is also crucial for love, nurturing, support, understanding even sympathy. It is only from this combination do we have a chance of growing up normal.In this day and age, women are no longer stigmatized for bringing up children alone. To the contrary they are glorified as strong and independent women who struggle to succeed against all odds in bringing up their children while maintaining a household and often by working a full time job, all by themselves. While single mothers do struggle and sacrifice, society as a whole, and their very children in particular, are far better off having a strong loving father in the home.

You can jump up and down and scream at me all you want. You can call me sexist and racist. My answer is simple common sense.Open your eyes. Look around you. The black community has a 70% rate of unwed mothers. The Hispanic community has a 35% rate of unwed mothers and whites are not far behind at 25%. These figures have tripled in the past 40 years. Can you not see the accompanying rise in gang activity, and general disrespect for authority?? Men are commonly used as the scapegoat here. It is said that they walk out on their pregnant girlfriends, do not pay child support, are woman abusers,child abusers or abuse drugs and alcohol. That might be true in many cases, but remember two things. First, those behaviors are much more common in men who grew up without a strong loving father and second, the woman has the ultimate responsibility for getting pregnant in the first place. Blaming the man and glorifying the woman does not change this fact. Any woman who has gotten pregnant without the support of a loving husband has made a huge mistake. Only when strong social pressures are put on women not to make this huge mistake, will society see a decline in single moms. And in this mans opinion that is the only way to reduce gang violence, poverty, crime and misery in America

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I being a single mother am in agreement with you on this one.