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Suburban Life

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Gun shots echoed twice in the street last week; a young man came to the door bleeding from a knife wound to his back, these are events happening in a suburb of Boston. Work crews volunteering to clean and rehab a neighborhood park are afraid to work in the dying grass due to broken, used needles tossed there by unknown visitors. On a warm sunny day in Spring, one only needs to open a window to be exposed to the tragedy that roams the street. One will hear the shouts of elementary school children as they laugh about topics such as crack fiends, sex acts, and who is due for the next beat down. Addiction and violence is rampant, overlooked so frequently it seems to have become common place and accepted.

Where are the old school voices of reason and conscious armed with brooms and cookies I knew in my youth?

Setting out on foot to the nearest grocery, is a journey taken with peripheral vision in use, a purposeful gait and eyes gauged for the occasional passerby as a look of warning; stopping to say hello is not an option. Churches and Synagogues may be open to the public, but when an obviously homeless man or prostitute sits on their stoops, or passes through their thresholds without saying a word the message is clear, "You are not welcome here, we cannot trust you."

This is not fiction, it is a cry for help.

Flowers still bloom in glorious profusion, birds float magestically over head landing gracefully on limbs above the noise and fifth. Trash cans overflowing with garbage, bags left in the street move along like bramble bushes with a cool breeze, and still the trees sway and sunrises begin the days. Early morning can collectors rummage and rip open the bags racoons left neglected, young children are seen drinking from left over beer bottles unsupervised late into the evening.

How has this come to be? Where did a community go so off track? It could be said these changes happened gradually, but why did they happen at all? Most blame single parent families that have gone back to work to support their children, understanding time has shortened, and needs have to be met. Some people blame a broken government system, the allowance of "free liberty", "freedom of speech", a free marketing system that will not stop businesses that chose to promote violent computer games, vulgar lyrics on the radio and access to R rated movies on cable or internet. But, not so long ago our next door neighbors where considered extended family, front doors of our homes had no need of being locked not even our vehicles for that matter.

Normally this writer tries to suggest answers to the articles I publish here, this time I have no answers. The condition of inner cities and urban areas have leaked into the suburbs on a grand scale, simple solutions only effect a small select group. Free programs are too few to number when compared to population, extracurricular activities without fees included or volunteers for structured play times due to the economy almost nonexistant, organizations like Big Brother or Sisters or rent controlled housing, although the desire to help is evident their waiting lists number into years not months or weeks before a clients name tops the list; with desperate citizens needing help today, its easy to see how hopelesssness settles in. One missed letter sent in the post to update status will cause names to be taken off these lists, its just that simple.

The only suggestion I would beg anyone who has read this to consider would be, to stop, take notice, and if it be within your power to listen, help or change the way you would view any of these events mentioned; be the one person who makes a difference if even in a small way. One plus one makes two, and so it begins.

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