My heart sank and caused me to reflect upon the community I grew up in as I learned the news about the recent shootings that took place at Galilee Baptist Church during a funeral held for a 19-year-old, who was murdered earlier this month. During my upbringing, Martin Luther King Boulevard was Princeton Avenue, and where Galilee Baptist Church now stands was the Gilbert and Mott auto dealership. That was the way I remembered MLK Boulevard. Now my recollection is of blood-stained sacred ground.
As I look at my birth city, I see a community wherein the leadership is not united and for the most part has become very self-serving. The schools have grossly failed to properly prepare our children to be respectable citizens in society. Also, the parents cannot be held fully accountable, because many of them are victims of the same system. The latest shooting was the result of several systemic structural failures that caused these young people, who have no regard for human life, to brandish and discharge weapons on mourners at a funeral. My immediate thought was: How did we get here?
I suggest we are immersed in the current destructive environment for several reasons: a lack of leadership that has failed to serve the interests of the least of these; a dysfunctional system that has led to hopelessness in a community, where too many young people have nothing to lose; a failed education system that has led to mass incarceration coupled with limited re-entry programs; an overdependence on entitlement programs, and lack of access to employment. These all contributed to the recent tragedy.
Statistics confirm time and time again that the aforementioned is a correct assessment of the facts, but without a corrective plan of action to change, things will remain the same. The adverse impact of poverty, unemployment and drop-out rates is being felt by the citizens of Trenton, by both the offenders and the victims. How much more are we willing to endure before we realize the current playbook is not working? What is the tipping point, when, with each shooting, the aftermath is just business as usual?
I submit that the tragic event at Galilee Baptist Church last week should be Trenton’s tipping point.
In recent years, we experienced ongoing misconduct by our city administration and yet, when there was a public outcry for accountability, many of those who deem themselves leaders of the political, faith-based and business communities remained silent.
Change to a system only comes when those who have the wherewithal to lead, mentor and protect others assume their rightful responsibility or role in society.
Source: NJ.com | John E. Harmon Sr.