Impatience has to be the virtue we all seek. Every day I meet parents whose fear that very night is whether or not their children will be shot or raped, or if their kids will go back for 10th grade after a summer of being out in the streets so much.
Look around at the 13-year-old girls in your family or neighborhood. Are they ready to have children? Lots of women I meet had children at 13. The reason is the exact same reason that 13-year-old boys run drugs or steal cars or car parts. Poverty.
I meet people every day for whom the word “vacation” is as foreign a concept as the phrase “going out to dinner.” In their world, there is no going out to dinner.
Last night, I spent time with neighborhood leaders who all seek a better neighborhood – and a better life for their families. And they are ready to do whatever it takes. Can we all take on that mentality? Can we please stop being patient about this?
I know we all need to work together on this. I also know that I have been on task forces and in numerous committee meetings over the years. All with good intentions but not enough egoless commitment to the goals we must accomplish. We have to start taking big actions and making big inroads to end poverty.
And for those who feel we cannot really end poverty, please dig in and work no matter your doubt. For if we reduce poverty by 20% or 30%, whose kids are we saying it is okay to let stay in poverty?
If you cannot see it, fine. But I implore you to not focus on what you think is realistic. Reality changes daily, and the unrealistic of yesterday is the ho-hum of today.
So, please get impatient about our neighbors being shot at alarmingly high rates. Please be impatient about young girls being raped, sold into slavery, and otherwise abused simply because they were born into poverty.
You would not be patient if your daughter or granddaughter were living in a world where prostitution makes much more sense than any other way of raising funds.
You would not be patient if your mother begged for money at a street corner. For whom is that life okay?
You would not be patient if your son were out every night – at age 13 – stealing, running drugs, or worse because that is the best way to ensure he stays alive.
Please be impatient. And please start now. If you do not know what you can do, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. We have many ways to engage here, and the fear of getting a lot of emails is nothing compared to the fear for your very life because right outside your doorstep is as dangerous as any place in the world.
Some may not believe that there is so much danger in impoverished neighborhoods. Of course, nobody who lives in these neighborhoods doubts it. I promise you that.
So, please. Please be impatient.