It is Friday the 13th! On the ride in to work this am, I heard on the radio that there have been 11 murders in the first 12 days of the year in New Orleans. New Orleans is a big city, but still small enough that one does not need 6 degrees to connect to a victim. A family friend teaches elementary school in the French Quarter and she recounted that one of her students was tired at school yesterday because she had been at the hospital all night with her ?brother? who had been shot the night before. It is depressing. I do not have ANY real clue on how to stop the killing, but one way is to stop the shooting. The problem is that how do you stop the shooting? For me there are many paths to try to help people stop shooting at one another, but for the most part each path has roots/symptoms in poverty and unemployment and a history of low education standards… What is sad is that for so many people, gang life is the path of least resistance to money and survival. But why? Why do people turn to thuggery to try to earn a living? A big reason, at least around New Orleans it seems, is that there is little hope for applying traditional hard work and american spirit to get ahead. Rationally though for some, thuggery is a natural outflow of the american spirit. They are just non-validated entreprenuers. If they can’t can’t get a job in the career path they want, they make a job in a career path that will get what they want. Yes there is risk, but there is also reward, and for so many that risk is minimal. a) Jail, well for most that is not that much worse, if not better than, life on the streets. b) Death, well for most that is not that much worse, if not better than, life on the streets. Rewards? Respect (aka fear), popularity, money, food, drink, cars, houses, sex, good times. This is also an outflow of another aspect of american spirit: ME. The american spirit has created a ME society; what is in it for ME? What do I get? with little to no consideration or thought for the community around us. Why? because they don’t care about me? I ain’t gonna take no hand out, so don’t hold your hand out to me… So while so many people shake their heads at the shame of it all, from behind their gated walls and inside their locked cars, with a handgun under the seat, I wonder why we can’t work harder on US, and less on ME.