OPINION: Has life lost its value in Detroit?
We live in a sick society -- how else to explain this headline: "Baby, 9 months, killed in drive-by shooting on Detroit's West side"?
Nine-month-old Delric Miller IV is dead. Someone fired 37 rounds from an AK-47 assault rifle into his home. Not surprisingly, within 24 hours, police concluded the killing was gang related.
To be honest, don't we know the motive driving the needless taking of human life in Detroit as easily as most would swat a fly? Life comes cheap.
These are not simply homicide statistics, these are our children. This is the 43rd homicide in the city in less than two months of the new year.
There may be many sociological rationalizations for killings, but none will bring these babies back.
There are far too many children starting out in life not being hugged, loved and nurtured. Couple that with a lack of education, with nearly half the citizens of Detroit described as "functionally illiterate." For too long, too many public schools operated to benefit adults, not children. Detroit schools are not known as places for learning but rather as "dropout factories".
Are Detroit children's view of the future to be drugs, jail, welfare, prison and violent death?
There are those who point to a century's-ago slavery and today's racism as a cause, even as the senseless killings continue to remain too often, black-on-black crime and violence.
There are many decent schools, teachers, adults and children in Detroit but sadly, they are increasingly islands surrounded by a sea of despair.
Detroit police Sgt. Eren Stephens is quoted as saying, "I believe that we as a community have to come together to stop this senseless violence ... It's going to take everyone in this community to say enough is enough."
Amen Sgt. Stephens.
Yet, sadly, this cry of anguish has been heard as often as the decades-old murderous gunfire. Church services will be held, children buried, political speeches will echo, rallies and marches organized and still the senseless killing continues.
What is happening in Detroit is as much a national emergency as any deadly hurricane, tornado, earthquake or terrorist attack. If it was to be described as a disease, it would be an epidemic and the Center for Disease Control would be on the scene.
Sadly, these crazy murders have become the norm, numbing us to the shame and tragedy in our midst.
When will it all end? When will leaders address the root causes of this social decay? When will the people stand up and scream and then act on, "Enough is enough!"
Soon, a 9-month old baby boy, murdered in a drive-by shooting, will be buried and the cycle will continue. Imagine if this were your child or grandchild?
It is past time to save our children. Stop the killing.
Crime is killing us all.
Before the month is out there will likley be more senseless murders.
Will Sgt. Stephens or her counterpart once again be heard saying,"I believe that we as a community have to come together to stop this senseless violence?"
Tom Watkins is a former Michigan state superintendent of schools and state mental health deputy and director. He is a U.S./China business and educational consultant. He can be reached at: email@example.com.