The City of Buffalo, New York has been coined the City of Good Neighbors. For some good reasons. Back in the day Buffalo had a thriving city and the morals of the residents were sky high. Within the last seven months or so the city has erupted in gun violence. How is it that a 3year old boy loses his life while at a family cookout? Or that Buffalo is now on the verge of shattering its homicide record from 1994? What happened to the City of Good Neighbors?
There are many contributing factors to violence and or gun violence. Poverty, lack of education, lack of opportunities, lack of self respect for one self or other’s. That’s just to name a few. How can someone be a good neighbor when they don’t respect themselves? I believe a key issue with our youth and young adults today is that they have a lack of respect for themselves. Quite frankly, if they don’t respect themselves, how can we expect them to respect others; their neighbors?
As a youth I can remember the emphasis put on respecting others. However I cannot recall much about respecting myself. So I conjured up my own perspective. There’s was a good chance things would go awry. I eventually indulged in behaviors that led to my incarceration in which I have served now twenty years.
Most young adults if asked today would define respect as something that has to be earned. In my 16 plus years of experience in working in youth mentorship programs; A Look For Alternative (ALFA), Community Awareness Program ( CAP) ,Youth Assistance Program (YAP), that is the common response. Even in the Bible it says; Give and it shall be given to you (Luke 6:38).
If we can begin to help our youth transform how they view respect it can make a huge impact in their lives. As they begin to respect themselves and others, undoubtedly their actions will begin to change as well. I believe in my city, the “City of Good Neighbors.” However when anyone loses their life from gun violence, it is not just the Eastside of Buffalo’s problem. It is the City of Buffalo’s problem. Let’s bring back those glory days, one RESPECT at a time.
– Walter Ball