How Many Times Have You Missed Your Chance To Be A Hero?Posted: May 22, 2012 | |
This week I’m celebrating the release of my short story Thugbook and last Friday the most ironic thing happened.
Before I get too far, let me tell you that Thugbook is a story about a social network that captures photographs of crimes in progress. Citizens upload pictures and the website locates them on a map, precisely where they were taken.
The cops, good citizens, and a few people willing to do anything for justice use the photos to know who the bad guys are. Some people take that information a bit too far.
It a fun, and a little bit serious, take on how we can use technology to turn our urban neighborhoods back into communities where pressure from neighbors keeps kids in line.
So Friday I was in a bar standing beside the pool table with my brother when a guy and his daughter, who was about twelve, came over. The glass covering the mechanism that holds the balls has been gone a long time. The girl reached in proudly and released the balls without paying.
Her father said to me, “They get smart fast, don’t they?”
Where was my camera?
This little girl could have been the first criminal for my Thugbook Pinboard. (Yes, I created a board on Pinterest where you can pin photos of thugs. Just like the book. )
Or should I have photographed the father?
How often have you seen that? A kid taking something that doesn’t belong to them or breaking something and the parent just going along. When did this become okay?
I remember another story a woman told me. She said her son was feeling down. They were in a restaurant so she told the waitress that it was his birthday so they’d bring him free cake. The kid was shocked. Me too.
These may seem like small things, but the lesson is a big one. We are teaching kids, some of them at least, that it is okay to take things we want even if they belong to someone else.
I had to wonder if some parents really have blinders on. And then I read about a teenager in New Bedford who was shot and killed by police. I feel sad for his mother, but listening to her I was absolutely stunned.
She cried and exalted her boy as a good kid who loved everyone. I characterized a family in Thugbook exactly the same way. I felt it was over the top until I saw this woman on television. She could have stepped right off the page.
The newspaper reported that her son was removed from school for throwing desks and assaulting teachers. That he was on the edge and didn’t belong in school with the general population. They put him into the public middle school because they didn’t have anywhere to put him and he ultimately found trouble and was shot and killed by a police officer.
There are two big questions here. First, how could the mother be so blind to her son’s problems? Second, how could the community not step in and help this kid learn how to deal with others?
It’s tragic that this boy died at 15 years old. He’ll never get a job and feel good about what he created with his own hands. He’ll never have the joy of seeing children and grandchildren grow.
Today I’m thinking this kid needed a nosy old lady next door. You know those women who are always in your business and aren’t afraid to tell you what’s on their mind? They expect you to behave a certain way and if you don’t they let you know.
Maybe we need more of those ladies and some large men very much like them.
Many people look down on enforcing the law for minor things, but it could be those minor things are what lead some of us to real trouble. Stepping in and stopping these kids early just might save them.
What do you think?
How many times have you missed your chance to turn a child around?