Living Amongst the Most Dangerous [Chicago]

Monday, September 17, 2012, marked my one-year of living in the city of Chicago, and it’s settling in as a home instead of a temporary stay. During college, travel abroad and internships, I knew those stays were temporary and that I would move on. I’ve noticed that I’ve moved from no man’s land to concrete jungle. Here is my path to Chicago by population:

Hiawatha, Kan. (3,172)
Manhattan, Kan. (52,281)
Lawrence, Kan. (87,643)
Overland Park, Kan. (173,372)
London, England (8,174,100)
Chicago, Ill. (2,707,120)

No matter what size of population, danger and violence are just as prevalent. In a small town, such as my hometown, there are fewer residents with fewer law enforcement and lot of rural land that goes unnoticed. Chicago, on the other hand, has 2.7 million people, countless law enforcers but a lot of people that outnumber any type of force.

Earlier this summer when the cinema massacre occurred in Aurora, Colo., the nation was caught off-guard by an unbelievable rampage in an innocent cinema by a young man with troubled thoughts. The violence occurred in an area that is relatively not known for such violence, and the curiosity of the shootings in connection with the Batman movie created newsworthy headlines.

Here, in the lakeside city of Chicago, I wake up each morning and open my laptop to get started on the day. My homepage, The Chicago Tribune, loads and I browse through the latest headlines, even stories that unfolded when I was sleeping. One section of the homepage includes the usual headline: “5 dead, 14 wounded in citywide shootings.” I feel sorry for the editor who has to update the headline each morning and to try to be creative with stories that has such sorrow.

Have violence, homicides, shootings, stabbings and arson come to be expected in Chicago and other metropolitan cities? I’m not saying the Aurora cinema shooting was not newsworthy, but violence, especially gang violence, has gone under the radar for attention.

Chicago is stereotypically known for the North Side to include safe neighborhoods and for the South Side to host gangs and homicides. Even though I live on the North Side, I am not exempt from violence. In fact, no one is exempt. Several months ago, a drive-by shooting occurred a block away from my apartment during the daytime. A few months later, a man’s body was found dead in a nearby harbor. Public transport, no matter where you are, is prone to mishaps, robberies and even battery.

Looking back at my 3,000 people-sized hometown, there was violence even amongst the rural of areas when I growing up. A homicide where a man killed his wife and buried her in a cornfield is the most-recent tragedy. Several bomb threats, while null, occurred during my time in high school and middle school. I recall one night in 5th grade where a man tried to escape a car chase and scampered through my hometown and fatally shot a police officer.

My point is, whether large or small population, danger is present. We can’t escape it or predict when it will happen. The best we can do is educate youth in schools about the importance of safety and about the danger of carrying and/or obtaining guns or other harmful devices. Recall the conceal and carry issue. If it’s lawful to obtain and carry a gun with a permit, do you think that could stop such actions in Colorado or would it spur more shootings? Chicago is extending school days in hopes to cut back on violence before city curfew. The only thing we can’t really prepare for are the crazies; those who are unpredictable or deemed to be safe. We can only press our luck there.

As always, stay safe and be aware of your surroundings, whether you live in the boondocks of Wyoming or the side streets of San Diego.

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