’ll have to be honest and say that this next issue from the book, “The Revolution” was a big disconnect for me. I don’t’ know much about gangs and have merely played games with other boys growing up about being in a gang and stuff. I was never in a situation where I had the option to join a gang. I live in the “safety” of suburbia while all of the “bad stuff” happens in the urban areas. That is the falsity that I grew up believing. My biggest issue in H.S. was having acme or something. I never thought being in a gang would be an issue for anyone my age. All of this to say that I really don’t know much about gangs at all. This chapter opened my eyes a little to the life of a kid on the street.
Why would anyone want to be apart of a gang anyway? To me, I would rather be in sports or a club activity. Many times though, some of these kids are not given the opportunities to excel in these areas. They live in less than adequate situations and, in some cases, do not have one parent or the other apart of their life. Having one parent working hard to attempt and make ends meet, the child is usually left alone without a lot of guidance and direction. As the kid watches cars go by, he sees a lifestyle that is only 10 percent accurate: Big cars, flashy jewelry, and lots of money. When you are poor, that kind of stuff would attract any kid. The lifestyle is hard and getting out is even harder. Some kids make it while others end up dying trying to get out of a gang. Once you join a gang, a real gang, you are in for life. This is not a posse at your local 7/11 or something. This is hardcore gang affiliation. Usually to get in or out, the gang members beat the living crap out of you. After you are all blooded up, you have “earned the right” to be apart of the group. You are given a nickname, a “color” to wear in some cases and sometimes, a weapon. In some of the older gangs – the ones you might read about in books or the ones like those in the movie “American Gangsters” – you have to shoot someone in order to be apart of their group. Joining a gang is like signing up for something without reading all the small print. It might look good from the big letters but eventually, the smaller print is found and you are stuck with the consequences.
So. What do we do? How can we be in prayer about these issues? Here are a few ideas I have thought of as I have considered these manners:
* Educate yourself in how gangs begin and how one gets in.
* Talk to those you know about it.
* Pray for those who are in gangs. Pray that they can and will get our safely from them. Pray that God will give them sense enough to get out and move on.
* If you have a younger brother or sister, don’t assume that because you live in suburbia, they are safe from gang life. Talk to them about it and how they can stay away from it.
* Be a mentor/friend/big brother, big sister to a child who needs positive role-modals in their life.
* Volunteer at a youth outreach or through an organization. Time is something that is more valuable to these kids than you or I could ever know.
* Report any or all-suspicious activities/gang paraphernalia to the proper authorities.
Fighting is never the first response we should ever need to take in any situation. We are called to turn the other cheek and love others despite their actions or thoughts about us. That is what makes us different and unique from the rest of the world. The more we learn about these things, the more we can better prepare and teach others the seriousness nature of real concerns that occur perhaps right out side our front doors. Pray for the hurting and pray that these gangs will dwindle to nothingness. Until that point, we must continue to learn and listen to the voices around us in order to act appropriately when needed.