What's the matter with you people, you people out there who blame a nightclub, neighborhood or gun or other inanimate object for violence?
It should be clear by now what — or rather who — is the problem.
We are the problem.
We are not holding up our end of the bargain to keep children and young people in check.
We go forth and multiply, as we should, but then start washing our hands of our offspring once they no longer need Pampers or can figure out how to operate a microwave oven on their own.
We tend to weeds in our gardens but leave human beings to tend to themselves and fend on their own.
And look what that has wrought just in the past few days.
A teenage nephew of mine was shot during an apparent robbery on Monday evening, when he should have been in the house doing homework.
Thirteen people were injured in the wee hours of Monday when gunshots sprayed humans, as well as trees and other stationary objects outside Tyler House, an eight-story subsidized-housing building within walking distance of the U.S. Capitol.
It's a good thing none of the victims suffered life-ending injuries because authorities have turned their attention from the humans and mistakenly begun wagging their fingers at such political and economic targets as nearby nightclubs, which they threaten to close, and murky shades of gentrification.
In Chicago, a 6-month-old infant was shot five times Monday morning while her father was changing her diaper in the front seat of their minivan. The baby girl, Jonylah Watkins, died Tuesday. Her dad, who remains hospitalized with his own gunshot wounds, was the apparent target and the shooting has "strong gang overtones," according to Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.
"What the hell have we become?" the Rev. Michael Pfleger of Chicago's St. Sabina Catholic Church posted on Facebook.
Big Mama would say we have become a nation of people who sit back and wait:
For someone else, anyone else, to admonish our children who are flunking out of school, joining gangs, becoming loners and "setting it off" when things don't go their way (like the young Newtown, Conn., gunman);
For someone else to make sure children are in the house and prepared to go to school the next morning (like my nephew and the 17-year-old Tyler House victim);
For someone else to embed into the noggins of our sons and daughters that if you live by the sword you're likely to die by the sword;
For someone else, again anyone, to muster the courage to tell children and young adults -- and older ones, too -- to mind your manners, pipe down on the cellphone and quash the profanity and disrespectful behavior (behavior that embarrasses them, their family and their village);
For someone to say "thou shall not kill" or covet thy neighbor's sneakers;
For someone else to say, "It's 8 o'clock. Do you know where your kids are and what they're doing";
For someone to say, "I've got the lye soap, open his mouth, and girl you're next";
For someone else to say, "Pull up your pants";
And for someone else to say, "Give me your belt, and if you're not wearing one with your sagging pants, get me a switch";
Not holding up our end of the bargain means we get adults who, having grown like weeds, become everything from promising politicians to greedy thieves, and youngsters who go from being a "good kid" to hoodlums and killers.
For them, our wait-and-see attitude is a sign of encouragement.
They mock leaders, like New York City Mayor Michael R. "No more Big Gulps" Bloomberg and Vincent C. "This Is a Safe Walkable City" Gray, who take credit for declines in homicide and violent rates and ignore the moral statements of people like Father Pflegler, whose what-the-hell remark was not rhetorical.
It takes a village, people.
A 6-month-old baby?
Thirteen people minding their own business -- albeit at 2 in the morning?
Big Mama would say we are fast becoming the hand-basket for hell.
We can and must do better.
• Deborah Simmons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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