As I was heading home after a particularly long workshift the other night around 10pm or so, I opted to take the bus instead of the train in hopes that it would get me home quicker. And from the moment I sat down in my seat I knew this ride had the potential to be “one of those.”
What do I mean by “one of those”? I mean the type of bus ride where you’re either: A. Mentally begging God to let the bus hurry up and get you where you need to go or B. Figuring out what to do should something serious happen. So that’s why when a particularly loud group of girls and guys, all around my age (early twenties), made their way past my seat and to the back of the bus, I immediately turned my iPod up to drown out the sound.
No more than a mere fifteen minutes into the ride does it happen. A regular argument turns into a loud one. And a loud argument escalates into dangerously bordering a brawl. By this point my musics on mute and I’m eyeing the stop bell. To shorten the story (and from what I had to no choice but to hear) a young man in the group called a girl a b****, she then threw a tyrant because apparently they’d been friends and challenged the man to fight her. Then everything went to the level I’m sure everyone on the bus hoped it wouldn’t, serious violence. Now, I may be college educated and a fairly “well-rounded” girl, but I’m also street-smart, so when the terms “hammer”, “heat” and “4-5” start to pop up like fireworks, I know what time it is. Thankfully, before anything could really happen other people on the bus began to speak up. Two older men interfered and in essence asked the girl to calm down.
But I wondered and still wonder now, why is violence even still an option???
This scenario isn’t something unusual to me, although it should be. I live in a neighborhood where unfortunately things like this happen way too often. But it’s not my neighborhood I’m ashamed of, it’s the attitude of violence that’s plagued the people living here.
Some of you may be reading this and wondering how it relates to the theme of this blog. To you I ask this: In a society where our communities, and especially our young people suffer from the consequences of gun violence, how can we as individuals really claim ourselves to be healthy? Being healthy goes beyond physical fitness and nutritious eating habits. It’s also a mental and spiritual thing. When I have to watch the 10 o’clock news and see that there’s been a murder massacre a few blocks away from where I sleep, I’m not healthy. Or when I have to be told that one of my closest friends, and next door neighbor has been shot fatally in the head, I’m not healthy. Seeing the mothers or even children of young men and women mourn their loved ones over and over, is not healthy for any of us.
When we as a community don’t feel safe on our bus rides home, walking to the store, or allowing our kids to play outside our own homes, we are not healthy and we must do what we can to change that.
Not everyone may relate to this post because the truth is not everyone lives surrounded by violence. But many people do. When that girl got off the bus the other night still riled up and angry I felt fearful for her. I felt fearful for the young man who continued to argue with her, for the man who stood up to try to pacify the situation, for the bus driver and even for the people who wouldn’t even turn around to watch, more focused on trying to get home. Because when an attitude of violence takes over, you never know who will “catch it” the worst.
If you’re someone reading this who still believes that the idea of health and wellness is only an individual thing I urge you to look outside yourself. Volunteer in your community, or even outside your community. Help educate our youth on the positive ways there exist to live. And realize that in pouring out good things into those around you, you’re already enriching yourself in an invaluable way, you are a change-agent.