The question becomes, what will it take?

The question becomes, what will it take?

Two weeks after an unarmed Black man was choked to death outside a CVS pharmacy by CVS employees for the alleged crime of stealing toothpaste and crayons, we keep waiting for the “extremely strong reaction of anger, shock, or indignation.”

Months after one of our children, an honor student, was clubbed to death near his school with a railroad tie, with a camera recording the horrible beating, we paused, attended the funeral, listened to a few speeches, and then, there was no “extremely strong reaction of anger, shock , or indignation.” More than 100 murders already this year, with many involving our young people, we’ve had a couple of marches, and too many vigils, and far too many funerals, and, to our shame, not enough arrests, but still, no “extremely strong reaction of anger, shock , or indignation.”

That is, after all, the textbook definition of  “outrage.” It requires an extremely strong reaction. Not just a strong reaction. Not just the regular nodding of heads and clenched fists and perfunctory protest signs. We keep looking for the “extremely strong” reaction, and, woefully, it has not happened. If the stories told to the Defender by some of the Burge victims do not make your blood boil, then what, what will raise the temperature of your corpuscles? If knowing that the torture endured by those men at the hands of Lt. Jon Burge and his minions robbed them of their lives unjustly does not make you want to rise up out of your chair, then it is probably hard to distinguish where the chair ends and you begin.

Maybe we have gotten too old, too set in our ways, too comfortable. That is hard to imagine, since those are OUR children being killed. Maybe there has been so much carnage, so much death, so much tragedy, that we have become jaded, tired, numbed into inaction. That cannot be it, since politicians spend most of their campaigns telling us they are going to try to make these things stop. There has to at least be hope, if not outrage.

But, sadly, we seem to lack both, so it is just another death, just another shooting, just another child hit by an errant bullet while she sat in the back seat of her father’s car, just another family torn apart by domestic violence that erupted when someone said the wrong thing, uttered the final insult, and a gun roared.

Does anyone see that we are NOT SUPPOSED TO LIVE LIKE THIS? Does anyone recognize that this violence, this depravity, this hopelessness, is supposed to bring outrage? There should not be a quiet voice in the face of these situations that tear the very fabric of our community, squeezing the life out of it like you would wring out a dishrag.

It seems we are fresh out of anger. There is no shock in the cupboard. Our indignation is stored away in the attic.

Only outrage will make a change. This is beyond summits and think-tanks and reasoned thought. We should be outraged at this outrageous situation, and react.

Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender.

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