I’ve lived in the North End, in William Whyte, for nearly seven years now. The North End has become my community. I’m proud of my community and want to see it thrive.
I don’t like it when people who don’t live here say bad things about the North End. So I do my best to find positive news stories to share, drawing attention to the good. I think it’s important.
However, I can’t deny that bad stuff happens in my community. The crime statistics are all over the news. But statistics never tell the whole story. The bad stuff affects people — real, live people — all different kinds of people. So, what do people do when bad stuff happens to them?
We just experienced vehicle damage and theft in broad daylight, and not for the first time. The financial toll is plenty to deal with, but the emotional cost is greater. It feels like our community is betraying us. Doubts, fears, anger, and grief tumble around and life feels upside-down for a while. Eventually, after repairs are made and life settles down, we begin to trust again.
What do people do with worse injustices — attacks on their homes or person? I think of my pastor, who, in commemorating the loss of one of his flock, visited the local hotel where she died and, for no apparent reason, was jumped by five guys and lost four teeth. Beyond the physical pain and loss, what happens to the heart? How does one proceed? Keep caring? Trusting? Giving?
I believe a couple of things are important.
First, we need to feel the feelings that come up. For us, there were tears. And questions. And anger. Our family discussed inventing a crazy kind of security system that would essentially punish offenders on the spot. I’ll admit, we were quite gleeful over the idea. It returned a sense of power and control after feeling helpless. I made us laugh. All part of healing.
Second, we need to have people to share with and support us. I quickly emailed family and friends and asked for their prayers. Just having people know and empathize helped.
Finally, we need to forgive. Forgiveness was not my first response. If only we could make them pay! And then I remembered, "I need to forgive." Forgiveness doesn’t mean we pretend something is OK when it’s not. Forgiveness counts the cost, but chooses to let go of the grudge, knowing it will only continue to bring more damage.
Nelson Mandela is quoted as saying, "Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for it to kill your enemy."
Forgiveness sets us free.
Bad stuff happens in the North End. In the whole world, actually. What we do with the bad stuff will either bring good or more bad. It’s up to us.
Sonya Braun is a community correspondent for the North End. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.