Joy and Reality in Red Sox Nation
I've even joined the ranks of those silly and superstitious men refusing to shave their facial hair until the season reaches it's final conclusion.
Watching this team of bearded and bombastic baseball brethren make their way from last to first place in the span of a year has been a real thrill.
And now the World Series.
And the endless allusions to the Marathon Bombing, Boston Strong, and the healing of a city.
The city is not healed; economic disparity and despair, street violence, resource-poor schools, and lack of faith in government institutions to arrive at solutions continue to plague our "city on a hill."
I'm not saying we should stop reveling in the accomplishments of Fenway's finest or crediting the team for the way it has paid tribute to the severely wounded survivors of the April 15th devastation. But at times it seems that collectively we forget all the people, youth and mature, who face at best uncertainty and at worst terror every day of the year.
According to various reports, the homicide rate in Boston over the last two years is declining. In 2013, we're on pace to average slightly more than three murders a month; down from nearly five per month last year. That's three too many! But a very good trend nonetheless, if it holds.
Unfortunately, the contributing factors that help improve safety and build peace: summer jobs and afterschool programs for young people and community policing, are dependent upon tenuous and insecure funding streams that could be cut or altogether eliminated. Economic prosperity (or lack thereof) of course, evolves in direct proportion to perceptions and reality of neighborhood safety and security.
To keep funding priorities focused on these types of urban issues, however, public pressure has to be applied consistently over time to elected officials, and NGO and business leaders; something that is enormously difficult in an environment saturated with on-demand entertainment choices and lowest common denominator politics.
Tina Chery, Executive Director of the Dorchester-based Louis D. Brown Peace Institute for years has been trying to awaken Boston's citizens to the notion that preventable violence happens in our city in-between the horrific episodes of mass terror such as the Marathon bombing. In an essay on the organization's website, Chery, along with Jamie Bissonette Lewey of the American Friends Service Committee and Valeri Batts of Visions, Inc., note that "Many of our children have grown up enveloped by violence. Over 90% of the boys and girls in Dorchester and Roxbury report witnessing violence with their own eyes. They are a generation of trauma survivors - the kind of trauma associated with burying a father, mother, sister, brother or other loved one lost to violence.
The time to invest in healing these children is right now. And all of us must engage in the crucial conversation about the value of life - all life, including, most poignantly, the children and families who live in challenged urban communities. This conversation must be a central and enduring one for our policymakers, from the president, to the governor, to those competing next year to lead our city; from top law enforcement officials to our faith leaders; all of us."
In order to have these conversations, say Chery, Lewey, and Batts - agreeing with the sentiments expressed by Boston Globe writer Joan Vennochi in a June column - people need to "... explore why we are mesmerized by the Bulger trial yet have trouble focusing on the 17 homicides and 108 plus reported shootings in the city this year."
And so back to the Red Sox and the accompanying exuberance and celebration surrounding the team's ascension: enjoy it while it lasts. This success, after all, is fleeting.
Something also that can be said of the relative nature of peace and well-being in our beloved city.