My Neighborhood

Last weekend, on a warm and sunny Saturday, three innocent people were shot in my Chicago neighborhood. In broad daylight. At a Peace Picnic with kids and families present. A fourth person was badly beaten.

It was almost a mass shooting.

To many outsiders, I’m sure our decision to remain in this neighborhood seems insane. Why would we live in a place where peaceful gatherings can turn into scenes from a gangster film?

Because this is our town.

Our neighborhood.

I can’t go into the coffee shop without running into a friend. A trip to Target always includes a few minutes chatting with a familiar person. The ladies who own the dry cleaner are so friendly. When we go for a walk, people driving by honk a “hello!” and we wave back with a smile. Even the grumpy check-out people at our local grocery store ask about “all the kids” when I shop by myself. We are a part of this diverse and brilliant community.

When I really think about it, my family’s reluctance to move away from urban violence is a direct commentary on gun violence in this country. Gun violence has become so rampant and widespread. So random and awful. Who would have thought that school children in rural Connecticut or concert goers in Las Vegas or nightclubbers in Orlando could fall victims to gun violence? How are their deaths any more or less terrifying than any of the 479 people gunned down in Chicago in the past 365 days?

It’s hard for even me to believe, but I don’t feel especially unsafe in our “unsafe” neighborhood. I sadly know random violence can happen to a good person ANYWHERE at ANY TIME. Of course, we take precautions to minimize risks and keep our precious children safe, like not walking the streets late at night…and locating exits the moment we visit a crowded place in a “safe” town.

For now, at least, this is our home.

Our neighborhood.

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