Break In. Those two words use to bother me.
About every two years, someone breaks in to one of the Mission buildings. There is something normal to it now. Each time it happens, I am frustrated. Yet each time it happens, I blame those who break in, less.
Why? After all the very act of breaking in is one of violence. How do you walk away from that and not place blame? What message does that send to the one breaking in? To the community? Less blame?…well, partially it comes through observation. Observation of what the break in entails. Craft paints are on the floor. Pictures of Summer Fun participants lay on the floor with glass shattered. Broken doors, clothes scattered, the place in a general mess, but nothing taken. Nothing taken.
Nothing taken means something. I just am not sure what it does mean. Perhaps the youth are frustrated they do not have the same opportunities as the middle and upper class youth they see on television every day. Perhaps their family structure has been hindered due to political realities that have take parents away. Perhaps family structure struggles due to governmental systems that historically took children away. Maybe, somewhere inside the youth who broke in, there is a direct understanding that “taking from others” is the norm of another people and should not be their own. Who knows?
Less blame, I think, comes from a realization there is enough blame to go around for everyone. Certainly, the youth who broke into the church carry some blame, but not all of it. Too much of society—ourselves, our churches, our businesses, have walked away from communities and people who struggle. There are many excuses, but seldom do we acknowledge that my wealth comes at a cost to my sister and brother. For the wealthy, it is always hard to see and experience how wealth takes from another. For the poor, the struggle to see inequity isn’t so hard. The poor only need to look at their home, the food at their dinner table, their power bill, their school (how is it that “other” schools have shop programs, music programs, drafting classes, history textbooks less than fifteen-years-old), their insurance bill that is higher than those who live in “better” communities, and the number of friends and family who are in jail or prison. The folk who live on the margins know and feel an inequity that we who do not live at the margins can ignore and walk by, should we choose. Too often that is our choice.
Maybe my lack of being bothered is the reality the disenfranchised can only do so much as long as the franchised do not recognize the inordinate amount of power and resources they have at their disposal. Then again, as I consider the unequal sign in the last sentence, maybe I am bothered because of the break in. Perhaps, because most communities of wealth have yet to consider that maybe, just maybe, the power, the resources, and the privilege they live with, might have come by breaking into the communities of the powerless.