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Making Sense of Senselessness

Yesterday I received an all too normal phone call from my father telling me that someone in the community had been shot. So like I always do, I held my breath and prayed that it wasn’t somebody that I knew. Luckily in the case it wasn’t. Nonetheless, another young life from community was gone because of senseless violence.  My first peer to die from a violent act was in 11th grade. He broke into someone’s house in a botched robbery that ultimately led to his death. It seems after that day the number of my peers that killed someone or were slain increased exponentially.  Just this morning when I opened the newspaper I saw another young man that I knew had been shot after getting into an altercation with his ex-girlfriend’s boyfriend. I use to ask myself why anyone would resort to what I consider to be barbarism- taking a person’s life for your own gratification. But now I’ve become so numb to violence and death that it worries me.

 I grew up in a middle class household, and for the most part I never had to go without. However, in my community I wasn’t far removed from gangs, drugs, and other illicit behavior. But my parents put me in a bubble. I attended private schools and elite public schools my entire life. My parents always made sure I was involved in some constructive activity. So naturally, I was almost blind to nihilism around me. As I grew older I became less naïve to the world, and started noticing that people close to me were involved in illicit activities. Yet still, I never questioned the route that I wanted to take in life. I never shunned them for their choices, but I always knew I wanted to go to college and make a difference in the world. By the time I got to high school some of my closest peers stopped “pickpocketting” and started robbing people with guns. Some of those armed robberies turned into murder. Currently, I know five people I grew up with awaiting trial for murder. Sometimes I wonder how I escaped being sucked into that lifestyle. It was right in front of me. But I always casually said no. I honestly believe that many of my peers respected me for wanting to go on the straight and narrow path. The thing that still puzzles me is why am I not outraged, shocked, or flabbergasted by their violent acts? I know what they did was bad but it has become so common in my community and in my life that I’ve become numb to it.  I want to feel some type of pain or sadness, but it seems as if the only thing I can do is shake my head.