Chicago – A call to mentor as a solution to violence

Posted: August 14, 2012 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized

Classic 60th Wood Street Block Party

It seems like every day I cringe before looking at the news. It’s some story how some poor family in Chicago lost another child to senseless violence. I grew up in these neighborhoods. I was raised on 60th and Wood St. which is in Englewood, one of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods. I was blessed beyond measure.

I had a mother that was spiritual and taught me to love God more than myself. And, I had a father that would walk until his feet bleed to provide for his children. I was gifted with the ability to comprehend difficult analytical concepts which lead to a successfully career with computers. The combination has taught me how to be a father and the importance of investing physically, spiritually and emotionally into my children.

But the further I get from Wood St. the more I’m reminded that I had a friend in grammar school named Simon (not real name). He was my best friend because he was a geek like me. He had a vivid imagination he had charisma. We would talk about everything from Transformers to computers, girls and school for hours on end. The kid was just as bright if not brighter than me. But, I knew Simon’s home life wasn’t very good.

A few years later Simon wasn’t that good kid I remembered. He turned into someone that I wouldn’t otherwise have as a friend. This was a good hearted kid that grew up to be someone who no longer contributed to society in the way that was expected given his potential. He was me without my dad. These same young men today are causing this very same violence and continuing the cycle of poor parenting.

I have a responsibility to my old neighborhood. I wouldn’t move my family back to 60th in Wood unless God called me to do so but, I still need to give back. I’ve decided to start actively mentoring kids like Simon, young men who have the potential to do great things and be proud graduates of the block. But not just kids like Simon. I find that I have to force my way into other father’s lives.

I’ve gotten into debates with friends and others about how to solve the complex problems we have in our community. Some want the government to intervene, some think we need more formal social programs, better schools more opportunity. All those things are good and can help but they aren’t THE solution to the problem.

The solution is for men like my dad(R.I.P.), Lawrence Peterson(R.I.P.), my brothers and a host of other men that I know that are great examples of fathers to effect change. Guys like these are the ones that kids like Simon need involved in their lives. But they (we) need to get involved in their parent’s lives as well. It takes men to call other men to a standard. But, if I’m not a friend to Simon how can I call him to a standard?

This is what Jesus’ message was about. This is the physical act of love. I can’t sit back and watch an entire community struggle (my community at that) and just shake my head and say it’s a shame. What I should be ashamed of is that I haven’t had anyone in my home that’s struggling with being a good father. How do I affect change if everyone I socialize with is just like me?

  1. This is a great post! But not just a mentor, we must also have to discipline to ourselves to prevent violence in this changing world.

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