I have loved living in the innercity and haven’t thought realistically about moving out of 53206 in the last 10 years. I love my neighbors. I love seeing how our neighborhood has improved. I love our community garden and orchards. But sometimes it is hard. Hearing police sirens and wondering how close they are is hard. Hearing people play their music just a little too loud is hard. Seeing trash dumped again in the alley is really annoying. Wondering if the people yelling in the street are going to get out of control or violent isn’t fun. I have the ability to remove myself by putting in my AirPods and going for a run or taking a drive by the lake but many people who live here really don’t have the ability to remove themselves, even just for a short time. Self care isn’t always an option for people in poverty. I am able to take the easy road when I need it and that makes me wonder how the single moms in poverty do it? When you have these little aggravations going on in your neighborhood combined with trying to make it for your family, you’re bound to explode or lose it.
Empathy is hard too. It is hard to look into peoples lives and not judge them. It is hard to see the person asking for money on the corner and not think they are a bum. But what if we turned our aggravations into areas where we seek out empathy? What if when we saw people yelling in the streets and we tried to look at how their lives could have gotten like that? What if we tried to find out how a society could have made an entire neighborhood where people feel OK to dump their trash. What if we wondered why people in just a few zip codes having more interactions with the police. What if we all chose empathy today?