I recently had a discussion with my husband, whose family was a direct product of violence, asking him how it affected him and his entire family.
“There’s no end to the affect it has,” he said reflective. This type of trauma when brought up to those closest to it doesn’t go away. In fact, after speaking with him again, I realized that it’s the picture of dominos set up to infinity. After knocking the first one down, the others are knocked down as well – not necessarily in the same time frame as the first domino, but eventually it hits them as well. I was one of those hit a little later in the game, so to speak. The ones who were affected earlier on softened my blow, but it was indeed a hard hit nonetheless.
This “blow”, this “hit” – is to your heart. No one ever wants to see a loved one die – let alone tragically. Especially when you think deep down that it could have been prevented in some way.
It’s been almost twenty years now since my husband lost two of his first cousins to violence. Both were shot to death, dying only a couple of years apart from each other. Just as the family was overcoming one death, another happened. Because the cousins were twins, the trauma and grief experienced from the mother and father, grandmother, grandfather, cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings, friends – was endless. It was jaw–dropping, chilling, unbelievable torment – to know that two young men’s lives would be cut short.
What was even more heart-wrenching was the fact that due to the family’s limited availability and awareness to resources, no one helped them cope. No counseling, no help with the funerals, no financial relief, just the steadfast leaning on their faith and each other as family. Even to this day, no one is exactly sure who committed these crimes of violence and hatred.
I read an article just today about a similar act of violence in Southwest Philadelphia. Six people were shot and one killed. Age ranges were 18-23, same age range as my husband’s cousins. And because of the crowd, and because of the way an assisting car was positioned, no one is sure of who actually is to be accused of this crime at this time. And while I’m sure police officers and news carriers alike are as tired as they come of seeing people walking the streets taking other’s lives, the reality is someone’s child is dead. Someone’s brother, sister, aunt or uncle is hurting. And without intervention and prevention the cycle continues. Without education and heightened importance of community, schools, and families banning together for the fight against crime, history will continue to repeat itself. Without our outrage at Philadelphia having one of the highest murder rates in the nation something that affects our home and our hearts, real change can’t begin.
The city of Philadelphia belongs to those who live, breathe, work, dine, and play in it. It belongs to a rich heritage of family importance, small business owners, hard workers, entertainment, and community. Until we, Philadelphia, realize that this is OUR city, OUR community, and OUR cause, we will continue in this downward spiral of hopelessness. So I charge you to be counted in the number that bleeds for our city, by committing to be a part of social change and awareness to stop these numbers from increasing. Before it hits your street, your family, make it about your community. It takes a village – and when your village and my village come together, we can change the culture of our city: together!
Kristen N. Wilson, Development Assistant