“The City”

Benson - Ballston Lake, New York
Entered on November 30, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: community, place

I believe in the City. That’s right – with a capital C. Of course, you hear about all the problems more often – crime, corruption, drugs, kids with guns. But look at one from far away one time. Take one night and stare at the shimmering cityscape before you, a sparkling trail of white and red. It’s like a painting – so beautiful. Just how can it mask some of the ugliest truths of society and the human condition?

Despite this, I believe in hope for the cities. I believe they are the future – hell, they always have been. Since the dawning of civilization, cities have always been the hotbed of cultural advancement. Especially with the advent of the industrial revolution, this has been true. Unfortunately, a darker side has come with this – poverty, political corruption, and the embarrassing domestic failure of the so-called “war on drugs.”

Cities have been widely viewed as cold, a sense of community one would find in a small town abandoned for anonymity. And this sense of apathy is present in cities, and a major contributor to the lack of change concerning the biggest problems most commonly face.

Drugs. Abuse, distribution, death. This is a widespread epidemic in American cities. In the 80’s, the “war on drugs” was launched, resulting in massive police efforts to combat drugs. But this has gotten cities nowhere. Instead, enforcement strategies merely serve to oppress minority groups and prevent their advancement because of huge disparities in laws. Perhaps it is time to treat drug abuse as a public health issue, not a criminal justice one. Who knows?

Education. An embarrassment. Poorly funded schools and inequalities in the inner city make for high drop-out rates at a staggering rate. Why waste time on an education when selling drugs is much more profitable? The environment of the school indirectly gives children this kind of hopeless attitude.

Politics. It is because of this factor that the previous two mentioned exist. If politicians have the initiative to take real risks and stop compromising at the expense of the lives of city dwellers, there can be hope to fix these problems. An individual taking charge is hard and the effect they’ll have rather bleak in the big picture unless caring politicians can take the necessary leadership.

Despite this – get involved and you can be the hope for the city. Just breathe in the street one day, suck in the diversity and chaos and exhale with a sense that there are things worth fighting for in this world. All of which you’ll probably find in a city.